Heaven-Handling Flung

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 “Carrion Comfort”



These mounting deaths by one’s own hand
make grim headlines and solemn statistics.

In my clinic, patient after patient says the same thing:

this struggle with life
makes one frantic to avoid the fight and flee
to feel no more bruising and bleed no more,
to become nothing but chaff and ashes.

they contemplate suicide as
they can not recognize the love of
a God who cares enough to
wrestle them relentlessly–
who heaven-handling flung them here by
breathing life into their nostrils

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

so no one
is ever now,
nor ever will be


such darkness
now done






4 thoughts on “Heaven-Handling Flung

  1. such darkness IS done forever, thankfully, but as my own body and mind age out and deteriorate, it is hard to not want the relief found in getting out of this life. but taking one’s life is never the answer. may God grant His perfect peace to all who feel that that is the way out. and we who hold onto the faith should ever be watchful for those around us who need encouragement on their way in LIFE.


  2. This conversation is important, if only to remind us that others share similar dark journeys. On these passages,a kind thought, a helping hand, a smile, can make all the difference when the next choice point comes. It takes courage to acknowledge the dark side of life. I applaud and thank you for doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Three years ago, my beautiful 47-year old niece Maura, mother of a 17-year old daughter, committed suicide by shooting herself in the mouth. She died instantly.
    A friend in another city who said later that she had recently had a premonition that Maura’s depression and despondency had reached new levels because of unusual statements that she made – none of which included the intention to commit suicide. The friend tried to call her with no success. After two days
    of not reaching her, she called the police. They went to the apartment, had the super admit them, and found Maura dead on her enclosed front porch, The police found enough i.d. and other personal info in her home to learn that her daughter was a Senior at a local high school and that her former husband lived in the next suburb. Police called the school and her ex-husband, notified both of the tragedy and her husband immediately went to the school to pick up his daughter to prevent her from coming upon the scene at home.

    As is often the case, I have recently learned that, one of the first reactions we have to such sudden grief, is one of anger. ‘How could she do this to her daughter – to us?”
    We no longer harbor that brief emotion. We just ache from her loss — her usually joyful presence among us, her sometimes wacky sense of humor, her affection, her giftedness….

    No one — no one – in our close but geographically separated family or among her friends (except the one close friend in another city) had any idea, no clue, that Maura was in such pain. When together in family gatherings for the previous two years she had not shown any signs of mental illness of which I was aware, or of the deep depression and desire to escape from this life and thus to end whatever pain or unknown burden that she was carrying alone in the only way that her wounded mind could rationalize.

    As far as her spirituality, if she acknowledged the presence of God in her life, the family had no clue. Maura never discussed faith or ‘religion’ that I can recall. Although, when we gathered as a family for the usual important rituals of marriage, baptisms, funerals, serious illness, we did pray together. As children of the ’30s through most of the ’60s, we were all raised in a very strict Catholic-Christian atmosphere where, at that time, ‘religion’ meant ‘duty,’ compliance or else. Bad actions were always noted by an all-seeing God who kept records of such deeds, and would mete out punishment, etc. For most of the younger generation family now that attitude has changed, thanks to the Love and Grace of Jesus and His indwelling Spirit that has been taught and experienced in a new, more personal, intimate, understandable way. Maura had not yet reached that point in her life. I think But I sincerely believe that she rests secure now in the arms of our faithful, loving and forgiving Good Shepherd who does not rest until He finds His ‘lost ones’ and brings them ‘home.’

    So, yes, by all means, it is crucial that we try to be aware of the pain that we see, or know about, in family members and friends and even in acquaintances. It is not always obvious. The overt clues are often very cleverly hidden and may remain so for long periods of time. To do this effectively one must be cautious and seek the advice of an experienced mental health professional and follow that person’s advice on what intervention is needed and effective to prevent the tragic loss of a human life through suicide. The root causes of depression and other negative feelings that lead to suicide lie deeply layered in a person’s being and are often difficult to diagnose or to ferret out and treat. We need to ask the professional, or a knowledgeable, experienced clergy person, how we can be most effective in reaching out to our relative or friend in ways that the person in need of help will know and trust that we care and are there for them.
    All this advice, of course, came too late to help Maura . We now realize that reality in hindsight as we continue to grieve her loss tor her young daughter, and for us.
    WE JUST DID NOT KNOW! That, to me, is the real tragedy.


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