I hope you have been enjoying our summer read, Malcolm Guite’s Mariner about the life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This week we are on Chapter Eleven titled “The Two Voices.”
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Coleridge wrote his famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1797 when he was only 25 years old. The poem is about the chance encounter of a young man who is late to a wedding and an old mariner he meets along the way. Even though he’s late, the mariner’s story is so compelling, he has no choice but to listen, and his life is changed by it.
Thirty years later, Coleridge had a chance encounter of his own with John Keats who he met on a walk. Keats was moved by the great, white-maned man, and wrote
In these two miles he broached a thousand things,” among them nightingales, dreams, mermaids, and sea monsters. I heard his voice as he came towards me—I heard it as he moved away—I heard it all the interval.
It reminds us of our favorite Bible story of another chance encounter on the road to Emmaus. Luke, the greatest storyteller in the Bible, wrote about two people who met a stranger whose stories changed their lives as well. This stranger explained the Bible in ways they had never heard before. Like the Ancient Mariner, it was compelling because it was told firsthand.
How many times have we sat spellbound at the feet of grandparents or others as they told us the stories of their lives? Here we have Jesus Himself explaining the Old Testament from a firsthand point of view! Eternal God, briefly confined by time, illuminating the eons by breaking bread.
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