On Sheep’s Wings

But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save…

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?1

“Faith without a hope.” Ugh. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s necessary. Whenever the liar’s lies start sounding plausible, my first instinct is to fight back — counter his arguments with my own, untie the knots he keeps tying.

I always lose, though. The enemy I’m fighting is either myself or some devil. If it’s myself — well, I’m clearly in a weakened condition, and so at the moment I’m much stronger than me. I’ll never defeat myself like this. If it’s some devil, his intellect dwarfs mine; he cuts off every escape route, smashes through all my strongest defenses. I lose again.

The better thing to do is something a good friend told me years ago: Fold the wings of your intellect. My mind is a caged bird, beating her wings against the bars; so I’ll let her stop flapping. All of my thoughts have become weapons that the enemy turns against me; so then I’ll take away his weapons. Does the pain persist? Let it persist. I’ll think of a loved one worse off than me, and offer my pain to God for them. God doesn’t waste suffering.

And if there’s a chapel only 10 minutes away where I can sit at the feet of my Shepherd and fold my wings2 there — even better.

When I don’t respond to the arguments, they subside. The pain gets worse, then better. Do I feel great? Not really. But tomorrow I’ll feel better. Tomorrow, in all probability, I won’t be able to remember what was bothering me.

Tomorrow, too, I’ll get off my ass and finally (ugh) see what hoops I have to jump through to find a therapist again.

1 GKC again. From The Ballad of the White Horse.
2 So okay, it’s a mixed metaphor. Haven’t you ever seen a sheep with wings? Pretty pathetic sight, actually. You thought the bird metaphor was maudlin? Try imagining it with a sheep.

8 Comments on “On Sheep’s Wings”

  1. R says:

    That is very helpful, about folding the wings of your intellect. Thank you! Something similar: a priest once told my husband to yell at the devil and tell him “go to Hell!” I find it so helpful to realize I’m under attack from the devil; instead of arguing against myself, or facing some kind of vague thoughts and feelings that are tempting me without me even realizing that they are temptations, I can see that I am facing something concrete, and something outside of me. Then I can have the liberating and constructive experience of fighting it and defying it.

  2. Oh, I know just what you mean about something concrete and outside. I like the priest’s advice, and have used it since you posted this.

    1. Aiko says:

      chloe,No, he isn’t lonely, agoltuhh what he chooses to do with it afterwards will be his business!vesper,Erm, I think you may be going a little obverboard there, but thanks for bigging me up!joe,He was!jj,Patience jj.All good things come to those who wait!

  3. Melissa says:

    I agree with “R” and you that a concrete image or a particular phrase to use as a way to strengthen ourselves against sin is so very effective when we feel the weakest, the most confused, and the most ready to submit to temptation. For me, it’s the image of St. Michael battling Satan: the one where his foot is on Satan’s head, and he has his sword drawn above him. Love it! I actually got a small replica statue of it (modeled on the relief that currently resides in the Church of Santa Maria Della Concezione, Rome, 1626 A.D.), which is a good visual reminder for me of who is *really* in charge — if only I let Him be.

  4. Brian says:

    Sheep with wings? It’s HAROLD!

    “‘Es that most dangerous of creatures: a clever sheep. ‘E’s realized that a sheep’s life consists of standin’ around a few months and then being eaten. And that’s a depressing prospect for an ambitious sheep.”

  5. Ruth says:

    “Behold the Lamb of God
    which taketh away the sin of the world.”

    In the garden of Eden, Eve chose to believe the lie: “You shall not surely die”.
    But in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus the Lamb of God chose to die to buy us life.

  6. Megan says:

    “God does not waste suffering,” I love it. We need only offer it up and He will put it to good use.

  7. Kate says:

    Comforting 🙂

    Heard you on “catholic answers” and want to thank you for your witness 🙂

    Godspeed 🙂

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