Bloody, and yet bowed

 There’s a well known poem out there called “invictus” by William Ernest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Part of me always wants to yell this out from the top of my lungs, this idea that no matter what happens, my spirit is bloody, but unbowed. I want to be that master of my own fate and that captain of my soul. But it cannot be, truly, it cannot be! It cannot be, not because I don’t want it to be, but because my head must be bowed. For I find that when I try to lift it up, it is but shut down. My head is bloody; my head is bowed.

My head is bowed, sometimes of my own will, and in right times it is so, but in others I am reminded to keep it bowed so forcefully, that I cannot help but think of this poem. My stance as a Christian should not be this defiant attitude so well encapsulated in this poem “Invictus” because that unconquerable soul, that soul at war with God, has been conquered. It has been bought with a price so great that it has been thoroughly and utterly conquered. So my head is bowed because as Paul writes in Romans, “you have died . . . so that you may belong to another.”

So I too am still buffeted by that bludgeoning of chance, and that bludgeoning that so often bloodies my head. But it is bloodied, not because it is bowed, but because it ceases to be bowed. For In that moment that I forget that I am no longer my own, I am reminded that I am not nor have ever been the master of my fate, and I may never be the captain of my soul.


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