East Coker by T.S. Eliot: Reading and Meditation

April 10, 2020  • Hannah Wardell-Metcalf

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East Coker, by T.S. Eliot


Today, the Christian church marks the crucifixion of Christ. I have always loved Good Friday because there is no denial of the darkness. Every year I read this portion of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and reflect on the wild paradoxes of suffering. Elliot doesn’t try to explain away the pain of the dark. He insists on the odd contradictions embodied in “the darkness shall be the light” and “the stillness the dancing”. This Holy Week, the paradoxical message of Good Friday feels especially relevant in its validation of the deep injustice and pain the whole earth seems to be feeling. There don’t seem to be any answers, and often I find myself left “with only the growing terror of nothing to think about.” We have become a people all going into the dark, all waiting without hope, and yet, “the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.” We wait, hoping this end is somehow a beginning, that in the “echoed agony/ Not lost” death will give way to new birth and the promise of “The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry.” 


What parts of this poem strike you as you sit in the darkness? What paradoxes are you feeling in this time? When has something absolutely terrible turned into something good? What small thing can you do today to hold a vigil of hope in the darkness?

Hannah Wardell, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Resources for Living and Leading (Original pages)
April 1, 2020 •