The White Stone

J.B. Toner

For Blaise Gerard Kurtz

To him who overcometh, says the Lord,
A white stone will be given whereupon
Is writ his name, known only to himself
And God Most High: his true, eternal name.
I AM has sent us, given us His Word
(The Word Who is God and is with God too),
By word brought forth the firmaments of earth
And peopled them with everlasting souls:
We see His Name in bird and flame and breath,
And every blade of grass; and yet–and yet–
These are but adumbrations of that Name.
The Holy Name, in verity, is Joy,
Light, Beauty, Truth, Might, Goodness, Unity,
The Deeper Magic ancienter than Time
And Love immortal from before the Dawn–
A Word that only He can fully hear,
Within the borders of the Triune Land.
But every child of God perceives one part,
One aspect of His nature’s majesty:
The quintessential destiny of each,
Which none can apprehend but he and He.

To him who overcometh. May we all!
St. Francis of Assisi, long ago,
Made pictures in the snow and cried aloud
That they sufficed him for a wife and child.
And why, to him, that sacrament was barred
The rest of us need never understand;
We know enough: his yearning was denied,
But in its place from wounded hands divine
Received an infinitely greater love.
Perhaps the snow of his fidelity
Reflected or foretold his final name,
Its graces shining backward through his years?
Perhaps our absolutely brightest days
Are shadows thrown by what we may become.

And he who overcometh shall become
A splendour of humility refined
Before the Lord and men. Death opens all:
But there is much in life to overcome
Ere we embark upon the true crusade.
We bear, each one of us, a blackened stone–
Sin-heavy millstones lashed around our necks–
Through weeping vales beneath a shadowed sky–
Unhallowed vultures watch for us to fall–
oft enough we doubt our enterprise–
For sweet and seemly seem our sins betimes.
(Late, O Ancient Beauty, have I loved Thee!)
So toil and sorrow, death and Hell’s array,
Beleaguer every mile-post on the road:
But wise and loving counsels guide our steps,
And strong and loving shoulders bear our weight,
When we would falter, fail, or turn aside.
And far beyond the iron and the flame,
A place of light has been prepared for us,
A mansion in our Father’s holy House;
And there, at last, we shall be told our names.