Readings for John Donne: Priest, Poet, and Preacher (31 March 1631)
“Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets;” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:27)
Words of John Donne:
“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee.”
“These words are familiar to many; their author, John Donne, though less well known, is one of the greatest of English poets. In his own time, he was the best-known preacher in the Church of England.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)
John Donne’s day is 31 March (Tomorrow at this writing). But that is a Sunday this year and I will do the Eucharistic Readings on tomorrow the 31st. So I thought I would go ahead and ponder about John Donne today.
From James Keifer we get, “But the evidence of (Dunne’s) poetry is that, long before his ordination, and probably beginning with his marriage, his thoughts were turned toward holiness, and he saw in his wife Anne (as Dante had earlier seen in Beatrice) a glimpse of the glory of God, and in human love a revelation of the nature of Divine Love. (James Keifer http://satucket.com/lectionary/John_Donne.htm)
While The Wisdom of Solomon speaks of Wisdom as feminine, it must be remembered that when God was planning the arrival of Jesus it began through a woman, Mary. And throughout the Bible there were women who changed the direction of our relationship with God from human ways to God’s way. I think of Rebecca switching out Esau for Jacob in Genesis and Rahab assisting Joshua’s spies, and many others. We men have for too long turned a blind eye to what God is doing for all people specifically through the faith, devotion and love of women.
John Donne realized this in his wife Anne. And God worked through her to John Dunne. The Spirit of Wisdom is still as active as she ever was, moving through us and to us if we, like Dunne, listen and wake up to the alarm bell and really understand for whom the bell tolls.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.