No Health

In the classic Books of Common Prayer, Morning and Evening Prayer begin with a confession of sin. Modern liturgical revisers struggle with some of the wording, finding it too definite and too hard to say. The phrase, “…and there is no health in us…” is particularly troubling to them. It shouldn’t be. Because they are so hard to say, these are some of the most valuable words in the Book and should be affirmed in all their difficult strength, neither eliminated nor weakened…

The Prayer Book gives me words to say.
I’d like to pass them safely by,
to leave them out or add some words
to soften the hardness they declare;
but they are true, so horribly true,
for there is no health in my ailing soul,
and there is no good that I can do
to hide the horrors that infest me,
for even the heights of righteousness
are polluted by my false intent,
dirty, stained, like filthy rags,
and counting as the sin they are.
So when those words come to my eyes,
and I tremble, wishing not to say them,
I grit my teeth and still my fearful heart,
and spit those words from an erring tongue,
“…there is no health, no health, no health,
no health within my soul,”
and I lay that thought with all my sins
at the feet of the One who bears them all,
and I am free, I am free, I am free,
and I am His, and His priest tells me,
and I rise refreshed, without pretense,
a sinner saved by grace.

Ed Pacht

Ed Pacht is an eccentric 75 year old widower living alone with thousands of books in an old woolen mill that was converted into warehousing for antiques like him. He and his late wife came to Rochester NH in 1980 to pastor a tiny Pentecostal church (now defunct), and he is still here after many changes, including the death of his wife, the closure of his church, two other churches, countless menial jobs, and eight different residences in and around Rochester. Ed is now an Anglican layman, at Trinity ACA in Rochester editing the diocesan newsletter, and, in effect, a full time writer and performance poet, appearing at NH Renaissance Faire (as Brother Sylvan, Wandering Bard) and at several of the many open mike poetry events in the area. He self-publishes his poetry and short stories in a series of chapbooks (booklets of about 50 pages) and has released four books through Lulu Press: two full-length: Sylvanus Anonymus of the Greenfriars (a novel with a Medieval setting), and Strafford in the Flow of Time (poems and photos of that town); as well as two novellas, The House on Brown’s Hill and Runaway.

'No Health' has 1 comment

  1. June 19, 2018 @ 8:15 pm William Bates

    Ed, This is a beautifully written discussion of the Confession. This phrase & the truth of the need for Confession is so overwhelming obvious. Absolution & freedom from sin. Beautiful! Terrific! Lay Reader at St. George Cathedral, Ocala, Florida


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