My father and one of my closest friends recently passed away within five days of each other. In fact, Helen died on the afternoon of Dad’s funeral. It was too much loss. It was too painful. It was definitely too soon and too final. And “upside down” is exactly how I felt then and still feel now.
As always, my feelings have turned into poetry.
I wrote this poem on the morning of Helen’s funeral. It was impossible to contemplate one without revisiting the other in my mind.
This poem expresses what I suspect many people, even very committed Christians, feel on Good Friday: we should weep more than we do, we should feel more than we feel, in response to Christ’s death on the cross.
While it’s true that faith and feelings are very different and distinct from one another, Rosetti observes here the misery and doubt that comes from knowing and believing in Jesus yet feeling as though she remains unaffected by her knowledge and faith, and expresses most eloquently the desire for God to help her to believe more fervently.
Whether or not one is a Christian does not limit their ability to be affected by the pathos in this poem, nor to consider the power of the imagery with which the poet evokes that sense of lonely difference from other people that pervades it.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross, To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon– I, only I.
Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more And smite a rock.
‘In Passing’ by Tobie Hewitt is a thought-provoking story that explores questions we often have about life, death, and how we find those soul mates we know we’re meant to be with. The characters are just gorgeous, and the struggles they face are ones that the reader can easily identify with.
This delightful book opens with one of the best opening lines I’ve read in a long time : “The air shimmered with a knowing beyond doubt.”
That line really made me stop and think, and visualise scenes where this could have been the case. From that moment, I was fully engaged with the story and completely hooked by Tobie Hewitt’s writing.