Saturday, March 04, 2023

True 'Accompaniment'

 Then looking about him, the good man saw a cross on which Our Lord was painted in effigy, and pointed it out to Lancelot, saying:

'Sir, do you see that cross?'

'Yes,' he answered.

'Then be assured,' said the other, 'that the arms of that figure are thus stretched wide to welcome all who come. In just the same way has Our Lord extended His arms to embrace every sinner that turns to Him, both you and others, calling evermore: "Come unto Me!" And since in His loving kindness He is always ready to receive each man and woman that comes back to Him, never doubt He will admit you if you offer yourself to Him in the manner I have described, which is that of oral confession, of true repentance and amendment. So bare your soul to Him now while I listen, and I will help and succour you to the utmost of my power, and will counsel you as best I can.'

Lancelot hesitated, for he had never avowed the matter concerning himself and the queen, nor would he while he lived, unless the moral pressure proved too great. His torment wrung a deep sigh from his breast, but not one word could he force from his lips. Yet he would gladly have spoken, but dared not, for fear was stronger in him than courage. And still the hermit urged him to confess his sin and renounce it utterly, for if he refused, confusion would overtake him; he promised him eternal life if he made a clean breast, and hell as the price of concealment. In short he plied him with so many wise words and meet examples that Lancelot's tongue was loosed at the last and he said:

'Sir, it is this way. I have sinned unto death with my lady, she whom I have loved all my life, Queen Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur....'

[The Quest of the Holy Grail, Pauline Malatrasso, tr., Penguin Books (New York: 2005) pp. 88-89.]

As I've noted before, 'accompaniment' is jargon -- 'accompaniment' in English is only elsewhere used in cookery and music in ways that don't provide a good metaphor; the proper English word is 'companionship' -- but if we are going to use it, this is what it really looks like.