I raise my arms to You, my Shepherd, but my arms do not reach very far.
In vain does a sheep in a hole try to raise himself to the top; if the shepherd does not stoop down to help it, it will fall back in.
Your grace reaches further than the rays of the sun. Take hold of my hands, and lead me out of this dungeon. Just one ray of Your grace -- and I shall lift myself up on the wings of an eagle.
Beneath a stone grass is trying to grow, having become hunchbacked from seeking light and ashen4aced from lack of light. Great is my joy as a mortal, when I lift the stone and see the grass straightening itself up and becoming green.
Was not Your joy even greater, Immortal Lord, when You lifted the stone that the world had rolled over my soul, hunchbacked and ashen-faced?
In vain do I gather wood into a pile to warm my soul, if You do not kindle it with fire from heaven.1
In vain do I run; if I am going the wrong way, my running is futile.
All my effort and my sweat is a sacrifice to You. If You are unwilling to accept it, I shall be like a mountain climber buried in snow on the mountain's peak.
For You do not look at the multitude of efforts but at the yearning of hearts.
What do you have to yearn for, my heart? Wherever the eye looks, it sees death. Whatever the hand touches it feels death.
Whatever you find, you also find the fear that you may lose it. Whatever you fall in love with fills you with the sorrow of its loss.
My restless thoughts, you push your way through my mind like drunkards at a fair, and you keep falling and dying like locusts on a highway. Everything that sent you into me will die, and not one of you will be saved from my grave, except those which have tied themselves to the Graveless, Undying Lord.
Truly, you entered a sepulcher when you entered me, and like gravediggers you are preparing my grave.
But when the trumpet, the long-tubed blaring trumpet, sounds in my soul, and heralds the coming of the Son of God!2 Then will all the mortal yearnings of my heart, and all the mortal thoughts of my mind be separated to the left, and the field of my heart and mind will be cleansed.3
And the Son of God will enter this field, and will level all the tombs you have prepared for me like molehills. And the Son of God will wash me and bathe me and make me fragrant with myrrh -- not for death but for life.4
I myself immured myself, O Lord, walling myself off from Your grace. And I did not dare to poke my head outside, for You are like a fearsome wind. I built shacks and shanties in my soul and was afraid that You would demolish them. But You have not demolished them in order to leave me homeless, but have done so in order to take me into a palace more spacious and radiant than the star-filled universe.
People rejected Your cornerstone, because it is too immense for their shacks and shanties.5 Insane builders rejected it, because they do not know what to build on it. Being forgetful, they cannot remember that You are the builder, and that their whole job is not to interfere with You in Your work.
Your cornerstone is too immense, and giants are afraid to approach it. They say: "If we begin with this, when shall we finish?"
The wretches, how death frightens them off from every good beginning!
How time compels them to build one-day edifices!
Extend Your grace to me, grace which penetrates further than sunbeams, my Rich Lord, and I shall dare to stand beside the rejected stone.
Indeed, You are grace. Come down and lift me up.
Expel death and time from me and, together with You, I shall build what the earthly giants did not dare.
1. Cf. Luke 12:49.
2. Cf. Matt. 24:31, 1 Cor. 15:52, and 1 Thess. 4:16.
3. Cf. Matt. 25:33 and 41.
5. Cf. Ps. 118:22, 23; Matt. 21:42.