By Martin Warner
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Extra resources for Between Heaven and Charing Cross
The expectation of life being ‘more lonely ere it will be less’ hints at this, as does the reference to ‘my own desert places’. The details of Frost’s life suggest where this sense of desert loss might originate. In 1900 his ﬁrst child, Elliott, died, aged four. In 1934, two years before the publication of ‘Desert Places’, Marjorie, his youngest daughter and his favourite, died, aged 29. His life would be seared by further tragedy. In 1938 his wife Elinor also died and his son Carol committed suicide two years later.
B. Yeats, who had died the previous month. In Auden’s tribute to Yeats, one poet recognizes in the work of another a voice that answers the call of memory and longing. This is where the experience of life demands meaning and might discover it through faith. The statement of what has happened to us is not a sufﬁcient account of what we need to say; events point us beyond themselves and ask us for an exploration of why they matter. This is not a comfortable exploration of learning and discovery. The joyful stringency of religious life lived by Mother Teresa was her response to a world so bent on self-destruction that it wounded her perception of humanity as something beautiful, made and loved by God.
We might ﬁnd that a rather sentimental take on the Christian story. But the marking of our lives upon the hands of Jesus is precisely the point of communion between the human and the divine that happens in the incarnation. And since it is of the very nature of communion that exchange is what takes place, Jesus also marks upon us, even in our depression, lostness, and despair, the potential for glory. The importance of this for people of all ages should not be underestimated. The sense of placing oneself in the hands of Jesus to be sufﬁciently strengthened simply to stay alive is a serious proposition, especially for some young people.
Between Heaven and Charing Cross by Martin Warner