Monday, July 5, 2010

A poem half-memorized, wholly good

The Annunciation
And was it true,
The stranger standing so,
And saying things that lifted her in two,
And put her back before the world's beginning?

Her eyes filled slowly with the morning glow.
Her drowsy ear drank in a first sweet dubious bird.
Her cheek against the pillow woke and stirred
To gales enriched by passage over dew,
And friendly fields and slopes of Galilee
Arose in tremulous intermixture with her dreams,
Till she remembered suddenly...
Although the morning beams
Came spilling in the gradual rubric known to every day,
And hills stood ruinous, as an eclipse,
Against the softly spreading ray,
Not touched by any strange apocalypse
Like that which yesterday had lifted her sublime,
And put her back before the first grey morn of Time --
Though nothing was disturbed from where she lay and saw,
Now she remembered with a quick and panting awe
That someone came, and took in hand her heart,
And broke irresistibly apart,
With what he said, and how in tall suspense
He lingered, while the white celestial inference,
Pushing her fears apart, went softly home.
Then she had faltered her reply,
And felt a sudden burden of eternal years,
And shamed by the angelic stranger standing by
Had bowed her head to hide her human tears.
Never again would she awake
And find herself the buoyant Galilean lass,
But into her dissolving dreams would break
A hovering consciousness too terrible to pass --
A new awareness in her body when she stirred,
A sense of Light within her virgin gloom:
She was the Mother of the wandering Word,
Little and terrifying in her laboring womb.
And nothing would again be casual and small,
But everything with light invested, overspilled
With terror and divinity, the dawn, the first bird's call,
The silhouetted pitcher waiting to be filled.

I Sing of a Maiden
Rev. John Duffy, C.S.s.R.

Putting up with the smell of fertilizer

I'll crinkle the corners of my eyes and grimace my whole face because the memory tastes bad, and admit to these words : "I just don't understand. I try to take care of my things, be a good steward, be kind and good, treat people well...why is life hard? Why don't things just work out?"

A recent bout of this whining landed me in a pew at a Saturday morning Mass in my wooded neighborhood. The sanctuary is always shadowed, and the cool stone walls catch me looking for a tiny spring leaking through the cracks in the wall, as if the church were underground. The priest looks like Barack Obama and enunciates like a Shakespearean actor. He read:

"Jesus said to his disciples:
'If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.'” 
- John 15:18-21

Recover from your shock, Tala, quitcherbellyachin (I would like that to be Russian for "move on, grown-up"). Now turn to the question of how to turn this situation into fertilizer for something beautiful to grow.

To long for the sea

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the sea.”  -Antoine de Saint Exupery