Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hound of Heaven

Today's verse on my Ceaseless e-mail was 1 Chronicles 16:11, Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! As I was praying that verse for the five friends whose names were included in the e-mail, I thought of Frances Thompson and his powerful poem called The Hound of Heaven.

Thompson was born into a devout Catholic home in 1859. His father was a doctor in northern England. As a young boy, Frances studied to be a priest, but dropped out of seminary. He then spent six years studying to be a physician, but he never practiced medicine. What he really wanted to do was to write. But as a young man he became addicted to opium, and, poor and homeless, he attempted suicide. It was a prostitute, whose name he never revealed, who took him in and nursed him.  

In 1887 Thompson sent some poems to Wilfrid Meynell, editor of Merry England, a Catholic literary magazine. When Thompson saw one of his poems in print, he went to Meynell and introduced himself. The publisher saw Frances' broken state and learned his story. He and his wife took him into their home and through the rest of Thompson's life Mr Meynell looked after him. He also arranged times at monasteries for him to recuperate and write. It was during his first monastery visit that he wrote The Hound of Heaven.

I was introduced to The Hound of Heaven through John Rupert, our pastor during my junior high years. He loved the poem and referred to it often. During college I pulled an all-nighter the day before my paper about Frances Thompson and his poem was due. I was charmed with the Victoria language but even more so with the images of an unseen follower, close on the heels of one who was determined not to be found. The illustrations in my copy of the poem, drawn by  Jean Young, were mysterious, other-worldly. The Hound (God) who longed for relationship with Thompson -- with us -- would not give up the pursuit. In the end, we hear His words, "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He whom thou seekest! Thou dravest* love from thee, who dravest Me."

So this morning as I prayed for my Ceaseless friends and for people I know of who are running from God, I turned to the Hound of Heaven Himself, asking Him to soften their hearts so that they will realize that, indeed, He is the One they seek. Might they learn to seek the Lord and His strength; might they seek His face continually.

I invite you to read The Hound of Heaven here, or to listen to Richard Burton read it aloud here. Has the Hound found you yet, or are you still fleeing? He is the One you are seeking. Isn't it time you let His love embrace you?
* * * * * * *
*dravest -- drove away

You can find out more about The Hound of Heaven at these two websites (here and here) and by watching the video below.

The Hound Of Heaven - Documentary Preview from Oculus Studios on Vimeo

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