These few lines of verse from old Ireland ought to touch the heart of anyone who, in a moment of sincere reflection, sees themselves for what they (and all people) are:  living Souls of immeasurable sensitivity and intelligence. Alive!  Living in a paradoxical good and evil world of  life and death.  The person who wrote these lines understood something about themselves and (more important for us today) something about the mysterious, timeless character of   thoughts.  It takes a good deal of raw courage to face the basic mystery of being a human being.  When troubling thoughts come to call as they often do in the wee hours of the morning, it can be comforting to read a rhyme such as this and know that others have, in long-gone generations, been troubled in this way, too:


A Prayer for Recollection
Written in The 8th Century By an Anonymous Citizen of Ireland

How my thoughts betray me!
How they flit and stray
Well they may appall me
On great judgment day

Through the psalms they wander
Roads that are not right
Mitching, shouting, squabbling
In God's very sight

Through august assemblies
Groups of gamesome girls
Then through the woods, through cities
Like the wind, in whirls

Now down lordly highways
Boisterously they stride
Then through desert pathways
Secretly they glide

In their whims unferried
Overseas they fly
Or in one swift motion
Spin from earth to sky

Lost to recollection
Near and far they roam
From some monstrous errand
Slyly they slink home

Where are ropes to bind them?
Who has fetters fit?
They who lack all patience
Cannot stand or sit

No sharp sword affrights them
Nor any threatening whip
Like an eel's tail, greasy
From my grasp they slip

Lock nor frowning dungeon
Nor sentinelled frontier
Townwall, sea or fortress
Halts their mad career

Christ the chaste, the cherished
Searcher of the Soul
Grant the seven-fold Spirit
Keep them in control

Rule my thoughts and feelings
You who brook no ill
Make me yours forever
Bend me to your will

Grant me Christ to reach you
With you let me be
Who are not frail nor fickle
Nor feeble-willed like me

(Translated by Frank O' Connor)