Repentence And Shakespeare

Shakespeare and other poets had something to say about repentence. Shakespeare in one sonnet lamented our tendency to let what Jesus would call “the kingdom within” go unattended while we lavish our attention on the external things, the “things of this world.”

Shakespeare lamented in Sonnet 126

O Soul, the Center of my sinful earth,
Thrall to these rebel powers that thee array
Why doest thou pine with in
And suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward wall so costly gay
Why so large a cost,
Having so short a lease
Doest thou upon this fading mansion spend?

And he concluded this marvelous sonnet with the admonishment, “Within be fed, without be rich no more.”

Shakespeare was addressing the sin of misplaced concreteness, the human tendency to take for real that which was only ephemeral. John Masefield put it like this, describing us as a, “lame donkey lured by the moving hay, we chase the shade and let the Real be.”

The madness of our consumer society illustrates this sin of “misplaced concreteness.” We are so obsessed with “stuff” that we can’t slow down long enough to deal with our own inner emptiness, an experience which could lead to our discovery of our Fullness. I think the TV series on the Hoarders is a beautiful metaphor for this spiritual problem of our culture. True, these people are mentally ill…and grossly so…but they illustrate the profound mental illness of our spiritually bereft culture who daily “chase the shade and let the Real be.”

We need to….dare I say it…”repent.” That merely means we need to turn our attention away from the superficies of existence and focus on the kingdom which is within. And, when we do this we discover what Eckhart Tolle describes as The Power of Now, we discover that the best we can accomplish is getting “to be.”

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