Hide Not Thy Face | Remembering a Daughter III

Fred Appleyard , A Secret, 1914-15 | The Tate Modern, London

Fred Appleyard, A Secret | 1914-1915, Oil on Canvas, The Tate, London

A trinity of years has passed, each distinct in grief but one in hidden love. I hold a secret. It is your life. And I live to tell the story of its hope.

Ye blesséd Creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make; I see

The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;

My heart is at your festival,

My head hath its coronal,

The fulness of your bliss, I feel–I feel it all.

– William Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

If mortal beings know and a thing to two of immortality, is it because we think not of our deaths, but of those that pry open the chains of love, and let love loose to rise beyond the confines of this fragile life.

Nothing like death to teach us what it is to live.

Nothing like loss to push us to the brink of dark despair, where hope by grace is born and we begin to see God must be there.

Nothing like love to shelter that last spark of that sweet hope, and bring it to burn again, a flame.

It is too easy to disregard the end.

Until the end comes and opens a world of thought that unveils a truth beyond tomorrow’s task, and yesterday’s delight. We are pilgrims here, and not yet home.

What is this end? What is this life?


Three years have passed; a time of vigil that will not cease; a waiting — for some reunion. I have kept a sacred trust. I have sought your face. In the treasury of hidden silence I have listened for you. And in this time we have loved each other, forged a bond — delicate, enduring beyond the harshness of the grave. I have sought you, living a life so changed, and yet so real.

I keep a secret. A whole world of grief and anguish, life and love, exist in secret. Between you and me is that distance of things unseen; distance which sharpens vision, and strengthens hope.

I thread the boundaries of eternity. The mind rises to contemplate its beauty. Because I love you, I have loved the God who made you. Instrument of mercy you have become; lifeblood, furnace of a love that means to save us from ourselves, extending to warm and illumine the frail  dark reaches of the heart.

Where may I find you?  Where may I lay a bloom or sing a lullaby? How may I hear your voice?

We play hide and seek by altars. It is as though angels lead me to you. To stand before the temple veil. To pray for you. Or is it with you, O holy soul?

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face.”
My heart says to thee,
“Thy face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not Thy face from me.

Psalm 27. 7-9

I remember you — have known you from afar. If the land of the living is your home, then living here is but the way to meeting there.

Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face.” In seeking yours I find the One who made you. Is this the end?  Is this now your life? To behold His face?

Must we learn the way by loss?  Must sorrow mold us — shatter, rebuild, refine? Must love be purified, distilled, in the fire of departures?

Around us here are signs of living and of dying. Some live, some die. All live, all ultimately die. In the vessels of our bodies we carry mortality, and the hope of immortality.  It is all there, inscribed upon the human heart.


I have found you in the strangest places; a thought, an intuition, a thousand secret cris de cœur. In the morning prayer, or the evening psalm, as the incense rises, and the bells are rung; by an altar beneath a cross on a roadside in the country, or in the stare of an infant on a subway train. The thought of you is life for me, and as I breathe, I love you still.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting

And cometh from afar;

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

  Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality, 58-68

If this be right, then you live a fuller life than I. And know a greater love. And it has been my cross, my sorrow, my secret joy, my hope in my despair, to know it so.

It seems that we must suffer to love. Or is it … we must love as we suffer?

I have kept a secret, lived a secret love beyond all telling. In the nights of waiting you come across my thoughts as dew — drenching, refreshing, life giving — a vigil for the morning light.

I have learned to love the unseen; have lived before the temple veil and seen it torn.

In the dark on night, I have beheld the glory of the stars — and the heights of heaven, distant, have drawn near.

In the depth of my soul I have searched for you, and found you in the sacred heart of God.

All these things, and things untold, I have known because of you.

And so it should be. For you were made to be hope for me.

The desire of beatitude was born in losing you. Immortality, eternity, the glory of the blessed — revealed, beheld, in loss beyond all telling.

We call this gain.


Rest well, my darling. I pray rest with the blessed ones — in that land of the living, in that jubilee.

My heart is at your festival… The fulness of your bliss, I feel–I feel it all.

Remember us, my love, before the throne of mercy.

… Hide not Thy face, my God, and hear a mother’s plea.

Hide not Thy face.

+Maria Caterina Agnese Giovanna Grizzetti
12 June 2012


You may reach Maria Grizzetti at IncarnationandModernity@gmail.com