The End Times

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 13, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the full flavor of the “end times” warnings, those repeated annually as we move closer to Advent (which is only two weeks away!) When I was a kid, these readings scared me. And now, even as an elder, I’m not particularly in love with them!

But, nevertheless, you gotta’ love Malachi! What a powerful poet! His message of impending judgement and necessary repentance definitely hits the mark.

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
 when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble…

Malachi 3:19

Wow! Really? Depending on where we stand in our moral life, our reaction to this announcement might range from:

Good! Go get ‘em, God!” 

to

Oh, dear God, I hope it’s not me!!!”.


Nobody wants to be “stubble” when the final fires blaze. So how can we avoid that? Paul resets us on the right track, from both “cheer” and “fear” to commitment. He instructs his readers to do their job, living and honest simple lives. He says something like this:

Listen! You must imitate your teachers in Christ.
Live with integrity, justice and generous mercy.
Navigate the world with these as your compass.
Then you will welcome the end times.


Lk21_19 perseverance

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers an equally dire prediction of the end times. When we read the list of disasters and betrayals Jesus describes, we must admit that every one of them occurs somewhere in our world everyday. In essence, we already live in the “end times”, trying to welcome and foster Divine Grace in our piece of the universe.


Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

Today’s readings are an alarm clock. They call us to recognize the geopolitical world we live in as the emerging Realm of God, and to do our part to bring that realm to full realization.

It is likely impossible to communicate God’s vision for the world in the language of politics.  Scripture offers us the transcendent gift of the eloquent prophets Malachi and Jesus describing not only their own times but ours as well.


Walter Brueggemann says this:

The prophet’s task is to imagine the world as though Yahweh, the God of Israel and the creator of heaven and earth, were a real character and a lively agent in the life of the world.  I believe that such a claim, then and now, has to be articulated poetically in order not to be co-opted by political absolutism or theological orthodoxy.

Our readings today give us this poetic vision and challenge. Read them with great longing to hear God’s voice for our times. The world so sorely needs the answer that will blossom by the perseverance of our lives.


Poetry: A Song on the End of the WorldCzeslaw Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in 20th-century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets in the world: he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. 

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Warsaw, 1944


Music:  Let Justice Roll – video of the Salvation Army

God Knows

Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
November 5, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110522.cfm

Lk 16_45 knows heart

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading shows Paul shepherding in the very early days of Christianity.  His ministry throughout the Mediterranean basin guided early Christians as the Church planted its first harvest.

Paul lets us know that this ministry of leadership is not easy – that he relies on the good will of the communities he serves:

You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.
Not that I say this because of need,
for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.

Paul seems to refer specifically to material help,  but certainly he values even more the spiritual and moral loyalty of his followers.


In our Gospel, Jesus offers us a sermonette that can, at first, seem a little confusing. His tone, as he speaks to a group of Pharisees, is somewhat ironic. But his bottomline message is this: loyalty to God, not to material things.

The thread running through all these passages?  The work of the Church needs both our spiritual and material loyalty to thrive  – whether in Paul’s time, or Christ’s, or our own.

The Pharisees pretended such loyalty, but Jesus challenged them:

You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts …

A sobering challenge against which to measure ourselves!


Poetry: All Your Secrets – Omar Khayyam

All thy secrets are known to the wisdom of Heaven
God knows them hair by hair and vein by vein.
I admit that by power of hypocrisy you may be able
to deceive men, but what will you do before Him who
knows your misdeeds one by one in every detail?

Music: Thank You for Giving to the Lord – Ray Boltz

 Renee Yann, RSM

Alleluia: Discerning Word

Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
August 23, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus and Paul both get downright serious about true spiritual discernment — in other words,

“Stop the bull(ony)!

The passage from Thessalonians indicates that “conspiracy theories” are not just a sick modern phenomenon. Apparently some religious charlatans were trying to delude the neophyte Christian community with threats about the end of the world. Paul is adamant in his advice:

Do not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,”
or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.

2 Thessolians 2:2

Jesus “woes” the Pharisees once again for a similar type of deluding behavior. For their own advancement, they impose minute religious entanglements which block the true purpose of the law:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23:23

Jesus employs a great image to correct such delusions:

You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.

Matthew 23:25

In matters of faith, always look inside the cup for “justice, mercy and fidelity”. If instead you find “plunder and self-indulgences”, you can be sure it is not the word of God.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.


Poetry: A Cup Story – Author Unknown

You are holding a cup of coffee when 
someone comes along and accidentally bumps you 
and shakes your arm, 
making you spill coffee everywhere.
Why did you spill the coffee?
Because someone bumped into you, right?
Wrong answer.
You spilled the coffee because coffee was in the cup.
If tea had been in it, you would have spilled tea.
Whatever is inside the cup is what will come out.
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you,
whatever is inside of you will come out. 
So each of us has to ask ourselves..... what's in my cup?
When life gets bumpy, what spills over?
Joy, gratefulness, peace, and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words, and reactions?
We choose what's in our cup!

Music: Inside of the Cup – Ernst Samuel

Lent: Reaching for Peace

March 28, 2022
Monday of the Fourth week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we receive a perfect encouragement from Isaiah:

Is65_new heavens

Walter Brueggemann calls Isaiah 65 “a glorious artistic achievement”. Indeed, these images confirm his statement:

  • a new heavens and a new earth;
  • constant rejoicing and happiness
  • people will be a delight
  • no weeping or crying;
  • long life for all
  • everyone with a home
  • enough for all to eat

As we pray with this passage today, we may experience a longing for a return to our beautiful, safe world – a world before pandemic, a world before the specter of WW III. In today’s violent and besieged environment, we all pray from a place of anxiety, loss, constraint, or some degree of suffering. 

Isaiah’s community prayed from the same place. All the beautiful images were a promise not yet realized. The prophetic poetry of Isaiah is a call to courageous hope, not a description of current circumstances.

upside

Faith invites us, even as we experience a bittersweet longing, to trust that God is with us, teaching us and leading us deeper into the Divine Understanding. Even as circumstances turn our world upside down, God will guide the falling pieces to a blessed place if we commit to find God in the tumbling.

I don’t think many of us would deny that the world has needed fixing for a long, long time. The systems we have built leave many in deficit throughout the world, and we have failed to address the wound.

War, pandemic, forced migration of the poor, climate catastrophe all have laid that failure bare.

As we pray for resolutions to these sufferings, may we be opened to an irrevocable awareness of our common humanity and responsibility for one another.

Only by such an outcome will we move closer to Isaiah’s peaceful Kingdom. Only by our courage to embrace it, can God fulfill the Promise in us.


Poetry: by Emily Dickinson

I many times thought Peace had come
When Peace was far away —
As Wrecked Men — deem they sight the Land —
At Centre of the Sea —

And struggle slacker — but to prove
As hopelessly as I —
How many the fictitious Shores —
Before the Harbor lie —


Music: O Day of Peace – Carl P. Daw

Living the Cross

February 17, 2022
Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, two disciples of Jesus are our teachers. James advises us on what to do. Beloved Peter, as so often is the case, shows us what not to do.

James tells us to show no partiality. He makes clear that he is talking about impartiality toward those who are materially poor. It’s a maxim that Jesus gave us time and again in the Gospel.

James reminds us that Jesus is not just impartial toward those who are poor, he actually has a preferential love for them. So Jesus was partial to the poor, right? Hmm!

Yes, I think that’s right. In order to balance our human inclination to the richest, best, strongest, etc., Jesus teaches us to go all out in the other direction.

It’s like this great cartoon that popped up on Facebook a while ago:


Our Gospel picks up the theme.

Because of his great love for the poor and his passion for mercy, Jesus tells his followers that suffering is coming. Peter doesn’t like hearing that. Can you see Peter take Jesus aside and say, “Listen, Jesus, negative talk is going to hurt your campaign. You’re God! You can just zap suffering out of your life!”


Jesus responds to Peter definitively: “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

James Tissot: Get Thee Behind me, Satan

Wow! That must have stung! But that’s how important it was to Jesus that his followers understood his mission: to preach Mercy to the poor, sick, and broken by sharing and transforming their experience.

Jesus wants us to understand that too.


Prose: from St. Oscar Romero

It is no honor for the Church 
to be on good terms with the powerful.
The honor of the Church consists in this,
that the poor feel at home in her,
that she fulfils her mission on earth,
that she challenges everyone,
the rich as well,
to repent and work out their salvation,
but starting from the world of the poor,
for they, they alone are the ones who are blessed.

Music: Beauty for Brokenness – Graham Kendrick

Persevering Faith

January 14, 2022
Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings burst with lessons for our faith. We might center our prayer on these three dynamic elements:

Power
Praise
Perseverance


Power

In our first reading, Israel is in the midst of a profound power shift. Until this time, Israel has thrived in “covenantal localism” which released possibility and initiative within the broad community. But now, perhaps stressed by the Philistine threat, the elders lobby for the establishment of a kingship – a centralization of power, wealth, land control, and local self-determination.
( based on Walter Brueggemann: First and Second Samuel: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching)


The Elders Ask Samuel for a King

Samuel isn’t happy with the elders’ suggestion and, apparently, neither is God. Samuel tells the elders so in a passionate speech against regalism. He pronounces that when the king has usurped all their rights, God will not deliver them as they once were delivered from a similar bondage in Egypt:

When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you.

1 Samuel 8:18

The lesson for us is that the use and organization of power must always be for the sake of communal justice and well-being. Fostering these universal goods is the perpetual struggle of nations and institutions. As part of any community, we are called advocate for a just distribution of power for all people.


Praise
Our Responsorial Psalm counsels that in all such human interactions, our focus must be on God and God’s Will for universal wholeness and peace – a peace evidenced in justice, joy, and praise.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;            
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,            
and through your justice they are exalted.

Psalm 89:16-17


Perseverance

Mark’s story of the cure of a paralyzed man demonstrates the power of faithful perseverance. This man’s community – his friends – persist until he fully benefits from God’s desire for his wholeness.

Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:4-5

Such is our responsibility to pursue our own wholeness and the wholeness of our global community.


Poetry: Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley

(The poem explores the fate of history and the ravages of time: even the greatest men and the empires they forge are impermanent, their legacies fated to decay into oblivion. (Wikipedia)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
”Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’


Music: Aria – composed by Friedrich Gulda, played by Tomoko Inoue

Sing Mercy in the Sadness

December 7, 2021
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of St. Ambrose

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are blessed, once again, with magnificent readings!

Our psalm coaches us to rejoice and sing – a song that will heal the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
    sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless the LORD’s name;
    announce God’s salvation, day after day.

Psalm 96:1-2

Our first reading is the exquisite “Comfort” passage from Isaiah. And our Gospel gives us Jesus tenderly seeking the single lost lamb.

The first and last words of these two readings – COMFORT, LOST – capture the whole intent of today’s message:


Life is a maze whose walls are heightened
by our incivility to one another.
Isaiah calls us to be a leveler of walls,
a straightener of twists, a bridge over deadly valleys.
Jesus calls us to seek and carry the lost sheep.
We are called to be Mercy in a suffering world.


These beautiful and challenging readings come to us this year at a time when Pope Francis has offered a clear and similar challenge to the world. Last week, during his visit to the refugee encampment on the Greek island of Lesbos, Francis voiced his profound pain at the international immigration tragedy:

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” the Pope concluded.  “Let us not allow this place of encounter to become a theatre of conflict.  Let us not permit this “sea of memories” to be transformed into a “sea of forgetfulness”.  Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization.”

“It is an illusion to think it is enough to keep ourselves safe, to defend ourselves from those in greater need who knock at our door”, Pope Francis said.  “In the future, we will have more and more contact with others.  To turn it to the good, what is needed are not unilateral actions but wide-ranging policies.  History teaches this lesson, yet we have not learned it.” 

Source for quotes: Vatican News – vaticannews.va

During his address, the Pope asked every man and woman, “to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes.” 


Resource: To learn about and reflect on the issue of immigration, here is a link to NETWORK. Founded by Catholic Sisters in the progressive spirit of Vatican II, NETWORK works to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all in the shared abundance of God’s creation.


Music: Comfort Ye from Handel’s Messiah – sung by Jerry Hadley

As we pray this glorious music today, let us ask for the strength and courage to be Mercy for the world, to find the ways to comfort God’s people, close by and at life’s borders.

Grateful

November 10, 2021
Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 82 considered, by at least one Biblical scholar, to be:

“the single most important text in the entire Christian Bible.”

John Domenic Crossan, an Irish-American New Testament scholar,
historian of early Christianity, and former Catholic priest

Council of the Gods by Raphael, (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Psalm 82 best summarizes for me the character of (the early Biblical) God.
It imagines a scene in which God sits among the gods and goddesses in divine council.
Those pagan gods and goddesses are dethroned not just because they are pagan,
nor because they are other, nor because they are competition.
They are dethroned for injustice, for divine malpractice, for transcendental malfeasance.
They are rejected because they do not demand and effect justice among the peoples of the earth.
And that justice is spelled out as protecting the poor from the rich,
protecting the systemically weak from the systemically powerful.

excerpts from Crossan: The Birth of Christianity

Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.
Defend the lowly and the fatherless;
    render justice to the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the lowly and the poor;
    from the hand of the wicked deliver them.
Psalm 82: 3-4


In today’s Gospel, we encounter this just and supreme God in the person of Jesus when we witness the cure of the ten lepers.  

You know, it would be startling enough to run into one leper on your daily walk, right?  But TEN! That must have been an astounding situation. And to see those sad, disfigured people restored to wholeness must have been nearly overwhelming for the entourage accompanying Jesus.

Can you imagine that the recipients of such a miracle wouldn’t have clung in gratitude to Jesus for the rest of their days??? But, wow, only one even bothered to say “Thank you”.

What might have kept the other nine away,
locked in their blind ingratitude?

Perhaps it’s not such a mystery if we allow ourselves to examine our own often ungrateful hearts. We don’t necessarily mean to be boorish in the face of God’s kindness and the generosity of others, but we sometimes suffer from …

  1. Distraction: our lives are filled with frenetic activity which causes our blessings to flit by us into dizzying forgetfulness
  2. Entitlement: we think we deserve or have earned those blessings
  3. Self-absorption: we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t even notice that our whole life is a gift
  4. Laziness: we might say thanks if we get around to it. But we never get around to it.
  5. Unresolved anger: we’re mad that we even needed help
  6. Non-intentionality: we fail to live with intention and reflection, thus missing the opportunities for gratitude 
  7. Pride: we are too proud to acknowledge that we need anything
  8. Fear: we are afraid something will be required of us in return for the gift
  9. Spiritual blindness: we just don’t see the nurturing power of God and others in our life

It’s likely that our nine ungrateful lepers had these human frailties. But don’t be thinking about them, or your acquaintances who share their failings.  

Let’s think about ourselves and how we want to be more grateful. Let’s think about our omnipotent God who is always Justice and Mercy.

The story is a powerful wake-up call to do better than the poor lepers did by living this prayer:

May I live humbly and gratefully today.


Poetry: The Ten Lepers – by Rosanna Eleanor (Mullins) Leprohon who was both a poet and novelist. Born in Montreal in 1829, Rosanna Mullins was educated at the convent of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee,
Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea,
’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn,
The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on.

And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay,
A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way—
Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow,
Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!”

Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star,
And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar,
Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed,
Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed.

Not unto Him prayed vainly those sore afflicted ten,
No! He yearned too fondly over the erring sons of men,
Even sharing in their sorrows, though He joined not in their feasts,—
So He kindly told the Lepers: “Show yourselves unto the priests.”

When, miracle of mercy! as they turned them to obey,
And towards the Holy Temple quickly took their hopeful way,
Lo! the hideous scales fell off them, health’s fountains were unsealed,
Their skin grew soft as infant’s—their leprosy was healed.

O man! so oft an ingrate, to thy thankless nature true,
Thyself see in those Lepers, who did as thou dost do;
Nine went their way rejoicing, healed in body—glad in soul—
Nor once thought of returning thanks to Him who made them whole.

One only, a Samaritan, a stranger to God’s word,
Felt his joyous, panting bosom, with gratitude deep stirred,
And without delay he hastened, in the dust, at Jesus’ feet,
To cast himself in worship, in thanksgiving, warm and meet.

Slowly questioned him the Saviour, with majesty divine:—
“Ten were cleansed from their leprosy—where are the other nine?
Is there none but this one stranger—unlearned in Gods ways,
His name and mighty power, to give word of thanks or praise?”

The sunbeams’ quivering glories softly touched that God-like head,
The olives blooming round Him sweet shade and fragrance shed,
While o’er His sacred features a tender sadness stole:
“Rise, go thy way,” He murmured, “thy faith hath made thee whole!”


Music:  Hymn of Grateful Praise – Folliott S. Pierpoint

Winds of Change

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the longest and very familiar psalm which pleads for God to mercifully teach us:

  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Goodness 
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Compassion

In our readings, Paul asserts that without God’s Grace we can never attain these gifts. Jesus calls us to use these gifts and to practice a holy life by recognizing and responding justly to the challenges of our times.


Paul sounds a lot like someone approaching the microphone at “Sinners Anonymous”:

I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.

Romans 7:18-20

Paul basically attests to the fact that for human beings, even him, will and actions often don’t synch up. Sure, we want to be good people, but as Nike says, do we …

Paul’s says no. The only way we do the good we will to do is by the grace of Jesus Christ.


In our Gospel, Jesus affirms the slowness of the human spirit to act on the realities around us. In some translations, Jesus uses a phrase which caught on with the architects of Vatican II: the signs of the times.

Jesus tells his listeners and us that we need to be alert to the circumstances of our world. It both weeps and rejoices. Where it weeps, we must be a source of mercy and healing. Where it rejoices, we must foster and celebrate the Presence of the Spirit.


In the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), we read:

In every age, the church carries the responsibility
of reading the signs of the times
and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task.
In language intelligible to every generation, it should be able to answer
the ever recurring questions which people ask
about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come,
and how one is related to the other.
We must be aware of and understand the aspirations, the yearnings,
and the often dramatic features of the world in which we live.

Although written in the 1960s, these powerful words hold true today. We are the Church of which the document speaks. We are the ones whom Jesus calls to respond with authentic justice and mercy to the signs of the times. 

Read the newspaper in that light today. Watch the news in that light. Meet your brothers and sisters in that light today.


Poetry: Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Perhaps more than anything else, Shelley wanted his message of reform and revolution spread, and the wind becomes the symbol for spreading the word of change through the poet-prophet figure. Some also believe that the poem was written in response to the loss of his son William in 1819 (born to Mary Shelley – author of “Frankenstein”). The ensuing pain influenced Shelley. The poem allegorizes the role of the poet as the voice of change and revolution. (Wikipedia)

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, 
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead 
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, 
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, 
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, 
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed 
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, 
Each like a corpse within its grave, until 
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow 
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill 
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) 
With living hues and odours plain and hill: 
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; 
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear! 

II 

Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion, 
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed, 
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean, 
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread 
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge, 
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge 
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height, 
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge 
Of the dying year, to which this closing night 
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, 
Vaulted with all thy congregated might 
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere 
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear! 

III 

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams 
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, 
Lull’d by the coil of his crystalline streams, 
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay, 
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers 
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day, 
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers 
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou 
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers 
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below 
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear 
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know 
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear, 
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear! 

IV 

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; 
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; 
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share 
The impulse of thy strength, only less free 
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even 
I were as in my boyhood, and could be 
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven, 
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed 
Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven 
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. 
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! 
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! 
A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d 
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. 

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: 
What if my leaves are falling like its own! 
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies 
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, 
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, 
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! 
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe 
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth! 
And, by the incantation of this verse, 
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth 
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! 
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth 
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, 
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Music: The Times They Are A’changin’ – Bob Dylan 

Dylan’s songs in the 50s and 60s became anthems for the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied popular music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. (Wikipedia) 
Ah, it was a good time to be young! (me)

The Swedish Academy awarded Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”