Thursday, April 19, 2007

John 21

Even after the irruption of his divinity
He still had his body.
The wounds, sticky and healing
Beneath the clean, rough cotton;
The muscles stiff, but strong again.

He felt so good in the clear morning air,
Away from men contending in the synagogue,
That he dug his toes deep into the formless sand,
And decided to make them breakfast.

They came, dulled by fear and fatigue,
Except for Peter. Who could not love Peter?--
In up to his chest,
Made all the more alive by his shame.

So in love, he knew that
Eventually he would say it:
Yes, by all means, go

Teach all nations.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Revved up. I would take my blood pressure if only I could find my machine. No sooner had the need for basement waterproofing been triumphantly validated, than L. has a car accident. She's OK, physically. Had a bad dream or two, but had to get over it quickly and back to work. She mentioned she misses her Volvo, and it's not like her to complain. I guess it's displacement. She is tired and freaked out about how close she got to being really hurt.

A bit of running around there, doing auto body things, and Monday Mom will be having a hysterectomy. A lot of running around there, I'm thinking, though my wonderful sibs will be doing a lot. L. is upset. Sounds like a pretty safe procedure, but Mom's 87! And the Mother of All Anti-patients. That she agreed to the operation makes me realize how much she has suffered over the past year or so.

I feel beleaguered. Mustn't panic. Must talk to myself in the optimistic way I talk to the womenfolk. Well, the soul is feminine, isn't it?

"That which does not kill me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche. Well, don't believe it. I think that that which does not kill outright, kills slowly, ineluctably.

We must remain clay in the Potter's hands. He, the conqueror of death. Thomas Merton says, I think in New Seeds, that without Christ, human suffering is just misery. Stress usually makes me feel resentful or hurls me back on my own devices. Either way I'm mindless, Godless. I should practice prayer, faith and acceptance now, before even worse times.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


My Easters are often like my Christmases--I'm utterly uninterested till they actually happen. So I am anticipating Holy Week, now that it's here. I remember some affecting Holy Thursdays: living in the Port, in the city, with the old immigrant churches cheek-by-jowl, all gorgeously decorated. A fair number of people keep up the custom of visiting churches through the night. Once, in St. Adalbert's, at 10 o'clock in a nearly empty church, four strangers walked in, lined up in the back, sounded a pitch pipe, and proceeded to perform a Renaissance motet. The effect was mysterious and magnificent. Then they walked out.

Some good Good Fridays there as well. I remember Fr. Moriarity, the jolly, garrulous Irish priest at Nativity, silent for once and prostrate in the center aisle of the cavernous stone church. One year I went downtown to St. Mark's Episcopal. That was a liturgical workout. Very long service, with the Passion chanted in a peculiar, rhythmic style. Sort of a Church English, like Old Slavonic, maybe. I don't much like Good Friday at my current parish. Too many kids, for one thing, I don't much like the whole post-Vatican II service. Not much goes on and there's a lot of standing in line. Maybe that's why I often feel thoroughly exhausted and righteously holy at the end.

What I do like at St. Thomas is the Easter Vigil. Our reserved, intellectual Fr. Williams stands in the sanctuary and sings the Exultet to us. Could there be anything more thoroughly pastoral? The Resurrection announced by our own shepherd, the gift of faith transmitted personally. Better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in full throat.

The music of belief. I'd rather hear "Were You There?" sung by a group of believers than the St. Matthew Passion with a cast of arteestes. One Good Friday at St. John the Evangelist in center city, I marveled at the throng of movers and shakers at worship and had an epiphany similar to the one Annie Dillard describes, commenting on a Presbyterian communion service in An American Childhood: People really believe this stuff.

Their faith moves me forward.