[Richard returns to his manor house to find Mary there]
Richard: My wife! In too much haste I left thee.
Mary: I knew thine absence would not last.
Is thy soul settled?
Richard: Settled, yes, but still it mourns.
Mary: I mourned, too—awhile, at least.
For Charles, more than for myself.
He would have been so great and good,
Had not fate untimely ripped him
From our embrace—
Oh, Richard!—so great and good.
Richard: Weep not bitterly, my love—
Our son is still thus great and good, and shall be so eternally,
For he’s upheld in God’s vast love.
All things are small in God’s eyes—
The cosmos and the stars,
The world and its kings,
Yea, and Charles too—
All are small, yet great in that he loves them.
We shall see our Charles again,
See him greater and better than ere we knew him here,
For he has passed through the kilner’s fire
And is made himself at last.
I shall pray for thy healing, Mary,
But if God’s mercy tarries till the end,
Then thou shalt soon enjoy bright Charles’ smile.
Mary: This I know, and I thank thee, Richard.
Thy faith heartens mine.
Forgive me my accusations,
My wild violences of speech and heart.
A wounded creature lashes out.
Richard: I know, dear wife, and understand,
Though before I saw it not.
We are all wounded creatures, all—
But ‘tis our wounds that give us space
To heal into a new creation.
[Ailred, the steward of the estate, enters]
Ailred: My lord. My lady.
Accept the consolations of a friend’s grieving
To echo alongside thine.
Richard: Accepted, friend.
Grief is the song of the spinning wheel
That molds us toward unending joy.
We know not why, exactly,
Nor how the potter works this way,
But we accept the hope that blessed writ foretells,
That steadfast anchor for our souls,
That God shall make all these things well.
Ailred: Truth, my lord. So I believe.
Mary: And I, with tears, as well.
Richard: Methinks we all believe with tears.
Tearfully, grievingly, we cling unto the splintered wood
Where fought and bled and died the Lord,
Where blood of heaven matched our grief
In words that no one understood.
But understand we shall one day,
When the endless passion of our God
Ends sorrow with a word, an act,
A miracle of long-suff’ring grace.
Thus ends the world,
And thus we meet our blessed end:
In joy no language can portend,
When Christ makes all things well.