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Rhiannon and the Pursuit of Woman

June 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Bobi Jones captures the one of the Welsh myths from the Mabinogion in verse with his poem Rhiannon. This love story centers on the pursuit of a woman by a man over hills and into mist. No matter how fast his servant or his horse travel, Pwyll cannot reach the object of his affection. In desperation, he calls out to her and she stops and tells her tale and ends up marrying him.

When he beholds this vision of beauty, Pwyll proclaims,

She was dew: if the mournful sun should dare
attempt to lure her away, it would not deserve to dawn.

Then Jones’ poem (in Pwyll’s voice) describes the rapturous vision of Rhiannon by saying,

To see her like precious life fleeting away,
Nervous maidenhood raining along her shoulders
And everyone slaking his thirst in watch her:
As smoothly as blood in a vein she glided
On the white stallion-heart through the morning mist.
How shall one sing her purity?…Not like one
Moving in the outer world was her going,
Unless like a breeze softly wooing the ear,
Like a shadow of waters slanting the mind.

Is she a goddess? Is she a human? Has she crossed over from a thin place? Reading Jones’ poem the other day, I was struck by how vision of Rhiannon mixes physical attraction with spiritual longing. In the woman, he beholds something, someone that touches him deeper than simple lust for the other.

In Rhiannon, Jones’s stirred me to think of a vision beyond the Celtic myth to the pursuit of woman. Why do men respond the shape, movement, touch, smell, and voice of woman? The powerful warrior is powerless before such beauty. The intellectual falls dumbstruck in the presence of woman. Is this not part of the mystery of Song of Solomon and the passion between David and Bathsheba.

Then as I reflected on this response to the beauty of woman, I was moved by the decision of God to reveal his relationship with humans in the context of man pursuing woman. This pursuit is not the violent conquest of predator but of the Prince running toward His beloved in the folds of a misty morning.

In the midst of the pursuit, He speaks and His words capture the heart of the maiden.

With all our books about pursuing God and our songs about our love for God, we must not forget the real story. Our feeble responses and pursuits are but dim reflections of a God who runs to His bride. Though she seems to elude Him, He runs straight through the curse of sin and death to pursue His beloved. Then He speaks but a word and she, we, His people are overwhelmed by a love beyond knowing.

Again and again we fall back into His faithful loving arms, and by His grace we are learning to trust the Lover who defines the eseence of love by selling all that He has (giving up His life) to purchase the pearl of great price.

Tomorrow when I arise, I would do well to remember Jones’ poem Rhiannon and expect the Lover of my soul to pursue me through the hills and valleys of my wandering life.

Fashion Crimes in Obama’s Campaign

June 12, 2008 1 comment

Did Obama’s VP advisor Jack Johnson fall victim to a fashion faux paus? I don’t think so, but the NYT headline begs for a story on fashion crimes:

Obama Aide Quits Under Fire for His Business Ties

Of course from the picture above, his business tie does look pretty bland.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,
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