Living Subalpine

Background image by Chavdar Lungov on Pixabay.

Commentary

I’m not going to say this is an easy poem. I wrote it, but am still trying to understand it! This may be a clue: I suspect that what my sister likes about the beach is what I like about the alpine trail: a vista — a perspective — that heightens or broadens our hope for godliness.

Here’s another way of expressing the longing:

Won’t it be fine
When refining’s done,
When what we love
And what He loves
At last are one!

–Brad Hepp, 3/6/2022

Reality
This may be a simplistic view of religious hermits…. They live out the wish expressed in this poem. Removed from the irritations and challenges of society, they may think that they are being holy. But they are just living a fantasy. It is in dealing with irritations and challenges that God refines us and in our response that we are privileged to bring Him glory.

Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!

For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i’ the scale.

from Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra.” The first stanza was my Dad’s favorite; the second is my favorite
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