Sunday, April 29, 2012

Playpen Balladries

Hard week at work, interesting to review. I got quite angry in a closed meeting with a particular individual and rightly so, as I believed, and with HR agreeing. Then came the period of sorrow even as everyone around me (including this individual) rallied to support me in my extra work. And now, I realize that yes, I was right to be angry. The reactions of others are proper too, but even as I regret friction, I have nothing I can regret in my heart except that a thing occurred which was unpleasant. I cannot say I am sorry that the world is this way. I am instead weirdly grateful - well, it's not so weird. I am typically grateful that something perhaps has been accomplished if this individual has learned something, if work goes well; but it is weird to say that the anger was okay, when our expressions of anger are usually so incredibly inappropriate and damaging. Still, I hope never to go through anything like that again, or not anytime soon. It took me out of myself, and combined with long hours at work, there wasn't much left at week's end.

As well, oh, I hope no one who reads this ever has to work too hard to love and pray. It has been a week to take your breath away. I am leery of "resolutions" one way or the other - I have found it is best to breathe deeply while you can and put your hope into a positive attitude going forward. Monday morning will be here soon enough, and quick feet will serve me better then a hardened heart or one liable to disappointment and dismay.

It would be nice if my tendencies toward form meant that I was organized and practical, but I am not. Not particularly so. I go by instinct and priority. I do not burden myself with the form of specific hopes of accomplishing this or that by then or now. I end up where I need to be, most times, as I am capable of work, but I cannot claim to have a system or a plan - a form for how it is done.

Form, instead, is a precept and a container or event - consider the ring, the square, the cross. I write in form; I do not live it. I am no predictor of form even as I routinely produce particles of  rectangular shape. In twos and threes they describe an untidy playpen where the regularity of the surfaces of the objects belies the clutter of clusters of uneven groups. I am working on a poem several pages in length that shows this aspect in apparent detail, I trust.

Back to writing poems. I hope everyone has a lovely Spring week - and that at least one of you falls in love.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mount Angel Abbey on another Spring Day

I went for Lauds at 6:35 AM and made it just in time. Very nice. No communion, but prayerful. A surprisingly intimate group for a Sunday it seemed to me. I thought to leave, knowing of a sudden that what I love and am made for is the mixed muck and glory of a neighborhood Parish - but I stayed for Mass. It was a packed house. Well enough - Communion wonderful, tearful as always. Then I got pulled into a retreat group by a kind-hearted fellow, met the RCIA contingent, listened, then went home. So, these thoughts before I write poetry.

I have been given the grace of belief, that the Lord is present in the Sacrament. I can add nothing to this belief that is not fully expressed in the belief, except to confuse you or myself. Wherever I attend Mass, I receive the body of Christ. I may visit the chapel and worship the body of Christ, which is present in the sacrament. I may stop at a shrine and, inspired by an icon or relic, an image or touch of light, I will worship God, I will worship the Holy Spirit, I will worship Christ.

Belief, after all, is utter and immutable. It is not subject to change, it cannot be improved, not by experience, not even by thought. The belief I had in God as a child has not changed. I may have found ways to express my belief more fully or so that they suit other aspects of my life better, but the beliefs, they do not change. Concepts held as beliefs that change - these are opinions. They are subject to supposition. Someone who purports to have once "believed" in God but then "changed their mind" has done just that. Their opinion has changed. May God bless them, I say.

The visit to Mount Angel Abbey was frustrating to a certain degree, in that the people I spoke to viewed it as a place of deepening a relationship that can never be deeper than to say, I believe in the Holy Spirit. We give ourselves over to this belief - but then, variously, or for various reasons, it can be termed a thought and, as a thought, it becomes subject to comparison. "Jesus Christ," you hear, "is present in your life right now."

Like other things - more than other tings - yes, I see your point, and I thank you. Perhaps it is my epistomologically conservative nature, preferring scripture to commentary (a secondary to tertiary source), as I believe that absent sacred reference, only an individual can say for themselves where or what Jesus is, and only by belief. When I say, I believe, I do not say You believe, and I cannot afford to say, You must believe, or worse, You should believe. I have nothing to do with what you believe anymore than I am fit to "loosen the sandals on His feet." In short, as Catholics, I believe we have two references we rely on. The Bible and our ministers who, as Christ's representatives on earth, we trust to speak the Word in a manner that is faithful to Christ on earth.

And so, if you were to stand me up and demand that I tell you what I know about God or Jesus, I would say first, Forgive me, but I know nothing. I only believe. If you asked me what I believe, I would recite the Apostle's Creed. If you asked me to tell you some details, anything, to support my belief, oh, I could tell you a few things I have experienced, but they are in the nature of mere facts. I know enought to know that I am not fit to draw a line for others to adhere to or even perceive, however willing or sympathetic they might be. I would tend to want to sit down and look over scripture, perhaps. I mean, what can I say in the company of Paul except, to suggest that we read Paul?

It has been an interesting weekend. I can say, I have had the honor, much to my constant, effervescent dismay, of being a reader at my Parish, and as usual or has been the case it was an emotional and startling service. I can say I have insight into the politics of the Church and my liberal leanings that I did not expect to realize. I am a little happy to say, I think I have my perfect "Catholic" (i.e. paradoxical) solution, which is, I believe in the sanctity of life and I believe in choice. I believe in both as both are gifts of God. To live, to choose to live. This position I can imagine would infuriate a reactionary - How do you vote? I hear him cry. I vote my conscience, I reply. Abortion is the law of the land, and in any event I support a woman's right to choose as that is a gift of God. I support distribution of condoms at public schools as an act of Charity - but principally, when I hear people getting so heated over these issues I smile and ask myself, given that we are trained in eternities, has it really been so long since God walked among us and showed us how to love one other?

Like I said, I met some RCIA folks (from St. Joseph's in Salem) and - there he was among them. It seems that he was a seminarian for five years when younger and he asked me is I was attending the seminary! What a joy. I had never seen anyone absolutely prostrate themselves before the Host in a chapel until today. What a great guy. Well, I promised to visit St. Joseph soon and I will. St, Joseph is one of my patron saints as it is and has been very helpful, I think, though one can never be sure - with the certainty of fact - where the help is coming from.

I should know something more on May 20 when I help with the Pancake Breakfast at St. Stephens.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

St. Stephens on a Spring Day

I have been putting off discussions of God, Catholicism, abortion, the election, pedophilia, the Bible, birth control, Easter, my baptism and confirmation, Acts, and all that, waiting for the right time. That time is now and I have almost nothing to write that I need to see written, which is not to say there is nothing to write about.

For example, perhaps you have tended a garden. In the spring you pull out dead plants and hollow stalks, you remove stones and waste, you break up clumps of earth and you smooth it out. You put all the garbage into a wheelbarrow and take it over to a compost heap, or perhaps you bag it for collection by the city. You do all this because you want a nice garden. It's a pain but your flowers and vegetables need room to grow and, besides, you want your garden to look nice. Maybe your family helps. If you are like me, your wife and son do a fair share of the work you should be doing in tending to the garden. Well, they get the lion's share of the credit for that, and it is nice to see them out there doing things, while perhaps you take a nap.

I napped and dreamed of a gate that swung open at a touch. Inside was a garden of flowers and vegetables so rich and healthy I thought at first, for years and years I thought, they must be a sort of lie. I touched nothing in my walk, for everything was immediate to my senses yet, as it were, transparent. I walked in circles and was never lost, for every sight was perfection itself - but that understanding only came later. I touched nothing yet I did not hunger. The sun rested on my shoulders and soothed me like a cool cloth laid across my brow. It was spring, and I was asleep in the middle of the day in a house that would outlive me and many others, as I have always expected and still do.

But today I might walk and see the riches of the earth as one who sees into the heart of a lover and know that one is loved. That moment, that is now, what befalls and is immediate - promised as given and given now. That day. Now renewed and now. Granted and now. Held too closely for words for now.

There are journeys that are too long for words. You strike the dock and can only exhale. A hand smooths your brow, you are done. The birth, the life that seems like it has always been and can never pass, not from earth as you know it. You simply haven't the capacity - to deny, to go on without. An open heart is a heart that cannot fail to be true. The true heart is not an unfailing intelligence. It knows its way as by a star.