Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch newsletter 2 August 2020
Most of you know that I’m waiting for an op date for a cochlear implant. Should be within the next couple of months. If you don’t know what a cochlear implant is, it’s an electronic device inserted inside my skull and then attached by a magnet to a receiver outside, which mimics what undamaged hearing nerves would do, first to actually “hear” sounds and then to interpret them as words (or music, or a door slamming, or whatever). Actually, it’s my brain which does the interpreting, and that needs retraining after 25 years of total deafness in my left ear. The receiver thingy outside looks like a beer-bottle cap, you might have seen people sporting them and wondered what they were. My audiologist said that he’d order a device to match my hair colour. “Silver-grey OK?”
My meta-physical poet mate George Herbert (remember him from last week?) wrote:
The harbingers are come. See, see their mark:
White is their colour, and behold my head.
But must they have my brain? Must they dispark
Those sparkling notions, which therein were bred?
Must dullness turn me to a clod?
Yet have they left me, Thou art still my God.
He is saying that white hair is a harbinger, a forerunner, of impending old age, and perhaps even of losing his fine mind which has produced a prolific output of poetry, philosophy and theology. But even were that to happen – and here we can see our modern plague of Alzheimer’s and other dementias – “Thou art still my God”. What an assurance was his, and grounded in God’s promises in scripture. To His first Jewish people, “They will be my people and I will be their God” (Jer 32:38). Echoed to us, his ‘grafted’ people, in Second Corinthians 6,
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
Herbert knew that the relationship depended on a Covenant, not a cognitive test. And the title of his poem? A forerunner travelled ahead of the royal party to find lodgings for them. Once found, over the lodging’s door the forerunner chalked a white mark. So what, Herbert muses, if these white hairs herald a possible loss of intellect or other powers of youth. “Thou art still my God”.
Oh, and the King is coming.
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