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Spiritual Almanac – Wednesday, January 13, 2021: Rudyard Kipling

Jan 13, 2021

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Today’s inspiration comes from the Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling. Born in Bombay, India to British parents, he was sent back to England at the age of six, where he boarded with a couple in Portsmouth. He hated it, and wrote about the neglect and cruelty he experienced there. When he returned to India in his teens, he launched his career as a writer and in 1941 won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Kipling is justifiably controversial for his celebration of British colonialism, but he did have a genuine interest in spirituality. Like many of us, he constantly wrestled with the search for meaning as well as the emotions and feelings of the spiritual life.

We get a sense of Kipling’s spiritual leanings in today’s reading. It’s a poem of discovery, about a narrator who unearths something old and forgotten. It’s there and not there at the same time, like a memory or a something that lies just beneath the surface of our lives. It’s a piece titled, “The Way Through the Woods.”

 

THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS

By Rudyard Kipling

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees. 
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling 

Some more inspirational nuggets for today:

  • On this day in 1929, Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles and was buried in a Jewish cemetery, 50 years after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. After he avenged the murder of his brother, Morgan, in Tombstone, Wyatt fled to California with his common-law wife, Josephine Marcus. The pair traveled the country, operating various business and real estate ventures for the next four decades. When he died at home of liver disease, Josephine had his body cremated. But since Wyatt wasn’t Jewish, she secretly buried his remains at her family plot in a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California. When she died 15 years later, her remains were buried alongside his ashes.
  • And on this day in 1968, Johnny Cash performed live at Folsom Prison. Cash’s interest in performing at Folsom was largely a product of his faith and his lifelong concern for marginalized people. The night before the concert, his pastor, the Reverend Floyd Gressett, gave Cash a tape of a song written by Glen Sherley, a Folsom prisoner serving time for armed robbery. After a late-night rehearsal session, Cash agreed to perform Sherley’s song, “Greystone Chapel” at the prison concert. It was a song about experiencing God, even in a place like Folsom. Some of the lyrics read:

Inside the walls of prison my body may be
But my Lord has set my soul free
There’s a greystone chapel here at Folsom
A house of worship in this den of sin
You wouldn’t think that God had a place here at Folsom
But he saved the souls of many lost men
Now there’s greystone chapel here at Folsom
Stands a hundred years old made of granite rock
It takes a ring of keys to move here at Folsom
But the door to the House of God is never locked

 And there you have it. That’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

 For more of Rudyard Kipling’s work, check out The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling. There’s a link above.

 Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.

 

The Way Through the Woodsby Rudyard Kipling. Public domain.

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