Lost And Then Found
Today we're going to pick up where we left off yesterday with a quick study of two poems by the great British poet William Blake.
Yesterday, we explored the meaning of his poem "The Little Boy Lost," and today we're continuing with "The Little Boy Found."
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand'ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appear'd like his father in white.
He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro the lonely dale,
Her little boy weeping sought.
Both of the poems in our little study were part of a volume of poems by Blake entitled Songs of Innocence. So, it should come as no surprise that the loss of innocence is a theme here, as we mentioned yesterday.
The loss of innocence does seem to be inextricably connected to feelings of isolation and abandonment, though.
In "Little Boy Lost," you get the sense that the poet is experiencing the loss of childlike faith, and with it the loss of God as he knew God.
And the poem today resumes with the poet as a little boy lost, but who is soon found by God who is "ever nigh," and who takes on the form of "his father" all dressed in white.
The child is then led by his hand to his mother, who has been searching for him not in "the fen," but in "the lonely dale." In other words, the boy is not where she expected him to be at all.
In fact, when you go back to the opening line it's the "wand'ring light" that has led the boy to where God meets him.
Here the poet seems to be lifting up the imagery of God as an illuminated pillar of smoke and fire from the book of Exodus--leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness.
My sense of this poem is that it was God who led the boy all along. And the mother could be a metaphor for any number of things--the Church, Mary, even a particular community of faith.
Sometimes the journey back to faith and trust from a place of abandonment and fear is a winding road. It can feel as though there isn't any rhyme or reason to our way, nor any real map to where we are going.
And sometimes the Church can be of no help at all in finding our way. In fact, the Church often misses the mark when it comes to understanding how and why we feel lost.
But if we are willing to be open and vulnerable, ready and willing, we will find that as we journey we are actually being led by a "wand'ring light," that seems to clearly know the way.
If you have felt like you've been wandering... if you are uncertain of your way forward, and fearful of what comes next---hear this:
God is ever near. God is with you in your lostness. God is still leading you, and guiding you, and will never leave you alone. Know this and be filled with peace.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.