Not Choose Not To Be



Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?
   Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins

I hear the same anguish
from one patient after another:

their struggle with life makes them
frantic to avoid the fight and flee~

they would
commit suicide,
yet not believing
in God
would mean
jumping from
the pain of living

…nothing at all…

I thought
feeling nothing
was the
of ceasing
to be

still in their unbelief
they do not recognize
the God who wrestles relentless with them,
who heaven-flung them here
for such sacred struggle

Perhaps they can’t imagine
a God
(who created
sore afraid
of His caring
enough to die)

so no one
is ever now,
nor ever will be,


6 thoughts on “Not Choose Not To Be

  1. I’m thankful that you have faith to sustain you in helping to carry the burdens of your patients!


  2. Joining the chorus of Hopkins lovers…in fact, I love him so much so that I wrote my senior capstone in college on his body of work. 😉

    This poem…”I can; can something, hope…” A tentative defiance in the face of despair, yet a defiance all the same.

    As a young adult and person of faith (and one with clinical depression), I am sincerely burdened for the mental and emotional health of my generation. Praying your witness radiates a quiet but luminous hope.


  3. I join with you, Olivia, in your prayer and in thanksgiving that you, too, are part of the growing body of witnesses to the illness and despair of your generation. The Risen Christ and His Holy Spirit are our only answer, our only hope. Know that you are not alone….

    I commend to you the very apt prayer of St. Teresa of Avila in case you have never read it:

    “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
    Yours are the only hands with which He can do His work.
    Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world.
    Yours are the only eyes through which His compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.
    Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

    May His Peace be in your heart, Olivia, and may you never waver in your resolve to be His witness….

    Your sister in Christ Jesus,


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