Among the many friends I have had who have now entered the larger life, several were poets. Francis Hall Ford was a parishioner in St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Mission in Chattanooga, which I had a share in founding. She and her family had year’s before entered Orthodoxy through the Greek Church. In later years she split her time between little St. Tikhon’s in Chattanooga and St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas where her daughter, Katie, now lives. Katie has been kind enough to share some of her mother’s poetry. With her permission I share it here. As for Frances (whom I knew better by her Orthodox name, Kassiane) may her memory be eternal!
The first poem is a Japanese tanka (31 syllables, 5 lines, 5-7-5-7-7).
In mid-June’s muteness
When scarce birdword breaks languor
Flame azaleas speak.
Sudden over path, up hill
Their Pentecost throats give tongue.
The second is a brief meditation.
THE ICON OF PENTECOST
At the Church’s birth,
Licked clean by flames of Spirit
Maid and Apostles in horseshoe
Make sweet maternal crib
In whose dark cave
The World, that Old King,
Waits with a swaddling cloth.
Frances Hall Ford
Thank you for posting this. I was wondering what the king was doing on the Pentecost icon, and when a quick Google search identified him as The World, I was even more confused. But now it makes so much more sense. Thank you.
Dear Fr. Stephen:
What a treat to see Frances’ poems on the web! Katie A. is a dear friend of mine and I knew her mother well. Thank you.
Where does that expression, “the larger life” come from? It’s wonderful.
It is a phrase from the old 1928 Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) that I have always found very rich as a synonym for the life into which in Christ at death. I do not know its origin otherwise, though I’m sure it has one. I can’t think of an Orthodox source that uses the term but there might be one as well.
In the 28 Prayerbook a prayer on the anniversary of one departed from the Family Prayers reads:
For an Anniversary of One Departed.
ALMIGHTY God, we remember this day before thee thy faithful servant [N.], and we pray thee that, having opened to him the gates of larger life, thou wilt receive him more and more into thy joyful service; that he may win,with thee and thy servants everywhere, the eternal victory;through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I have just become aquainted with the orthodox poet Scott Cairns. You can read an interview with him here: http://www.theotherjournal.com/article.php?id=808