Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poison or Medicine?

Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, stays all senses with the heart.
Two such oppos├Ęd kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs – grace and rude will. (2.3.23-29)
Friar Lawrence’s ruminations on the flower have always struck a chord with me. Being made in the image and likeness of God, man can choose to be poison or to be medicine in the world. In fact, we vacillate between poison and medicine on any given day. We are angelic agents of God’s grace in our finest moments, harbingers of hell in our worst. We daily smell the ambrosia of heavenly virtue and taste the rotten fruit of Eden. We are interminably caught between death and life, charity and selfishness, thy will and my will.

Life gets even more complicated when we add fortune into the mix. How we deal with the unexpected gifts and calamities of life beyond our control identifies us as poison or medicine in the world. It is the fickleness of fortune combined with the certainty of our own choice that lends life its sense of magical opportunity. There is always the chance to make amends and to set your life back on a course bound for the City of God; however, there is always the chance of finding yourself lost in a dark wood without a shepherd to lead you out of the valley of the shadow of death.

I pray that I may be medicine for the world and an instrument of God’s grace.

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