Category Archives: Precious Things

Moments of absolute presence, unbidden…

“Merlin and the Gleam” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Merlin and the Gleam

O YOUNG Mariner,
You from the haven
Under the sea-cliff,
You that are watching
The gray Magician
With eyes of wonder,
I am Merlin,
And I am dying,
I am Merlin
Who follow The Gleam.

Mighty the Wizard
Who found me at sunrise
Sleeping, and woke me
And learn’d me Magic!
Great the Master,
And sweet the Magic,
When over the valley,
In early summers,
Over the mountain,
On human faces,
And all around me,
Moving to melody,
Floated The Gleam.


Peter’s Betrayal of Our Lord


Peter's Betrayal of Our Lord

The story of Peter’s betrayal is one of the most telling, an imprint on the soul. Many parts of the Bible stay with me, from the New Testament and the Psalms to some of Paul’s writings, and the Book of Revelation. They are all mysterious, and evocative, and reach the heart. This is the one that seems the most enigmatic, and yet the most vital.

(from the King James Version)
[36] Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
[37] Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
[38] Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.


[58] And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.

[56] But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
[57] And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.

[58] And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
[59] And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
[60] And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
[61] And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
[62] And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

It is Judas we remember, but it is Peter’s betrayal we should remember more, for he was closest to Jesus, and when strangers suspected him of allegiance to the Messiah, he chose to protect himself, to deny a bond that had been forged in absolute truth. Jesus had done nothing to warrant Peter’s betrayal. He had given Peter the role of the rock on which the new testament of love was to change the world. So what was Peter doing, throwing that away?

Hearing the third denial, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” What was in that look Jesus gave to the man he had trusted most, a man who had just sold his soul as easily as Judas had done, and for what? Not thirty pieces of silver, but to keep himself safe. It was a coward’s choice, and Peter knew it, and he “wept bitterly.” But again, I wonder, what was the look that Jesus gave to him? Was it one of sadness, or was it, even so, the affirmation of love?

Luminous Things


white magnolias in an indigo dusk
the first thin line of dawn
a child’s laugh in the rain
the sound of trees in a high wind
a Brandenburg concerto
“Merlin and the Gleam” by Tennyson
new snow in moonlight
Gregorian chant
a story by Chekhov
the words “once upon a time”