Medicine for the soul

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?" Job 38.4


Raised in the "school of hard knocks" yet possessed of a poet's sensibility, Fray Luis reaches beyond the constraints of human frailty and disappointment towards what might be expressed as "life in all its abundance". Like others before him, he reinterprets his classical heritage rather than rejecting it, combining it with his biblical inheritance and thereby doubly enriching his insights and aspirations. The poetry through which Fray Luis expresses his convictions takes a Stoical turn in its encouragement of the imprisoned self to enjoy tranquility independent of its external circumstances, while its urging of the soul to break out of the body's corruption in order to live more freely and nobly betrays a Neo-Platonic perspective too.


Fray Luis may be spared accusations of hubris, on account of the sincerity of his devotion and the integrity of his work: each poem a finely crafted masterpiece of hope in the face of despair. Would that we all had his genius for turning our pain into others' balm! But why not? We all have a story and, if you are reading this, then you have a life and people around you. How shall we offer what we have so that, like the little boy who brought his lunch to Jesus and 5000 were fed (with women and children in addition), the Lord might use it/ us to bless others? And whether that is many or few need not concern us for, in the economy of God, scale does not matter - only what is right and necessary.

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