Du Temps Perdu

In those days
My phone stayed
On vibrate
Even in meetings

I was
More or less
Always on call
For the two old women

So that day
In that meeting
When it vibrated on the table
And the caller ID showed “Mom”
I excused myself
Stepped out the door
And answered

“Mom, is something wrong?”

The excitement shook her voice
Made her breathless
As she spilled forth:

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong We have a Pope! and he’s a Jesuit from South America and he took the name Francis first Pope ever to take Francis as his name we have a Pope!

A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away
I was Catholic
Baptized at 3 weeks old
Schooled at
St. Rose di Lima
St. Leo the Great
St. Joseph Academy
Marquette University

But that was long ago
Far away
Long lost
No, not lost
Rejected

When that call came
I was Episcopalian
Catholic Light
Teaching Sunday School
Best friends with my priest’s wife

My mother though
Remained
In my sister’s words
More Catholic than the Pope

So now she interrupted
My work day
With her excitement
Losing years
Losing estrangement
Expecting me to share
Her excitement

Wondrously, I did.
A Jesuit
An American
A Francis

So I took an interest
I followed as he
Rejected palace living
Chose a small car
Rebuked the Curia

I followed and wondered
And felt a breeze
That carried the strawberry scent
Of Vatican II
Of my hopeful youth

But that was long ago
In a Rome far away
As I listened to his rant
Against those who criticize the Church
Friends and relatives of the devil
He called us

And I see Lord Acton
Standing behind Francis’ left shoulder
Sadly shaking his head.

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Sometimes

Sometimes my hatred burns so hot
My peace goes up in flames

Sometimes all I want is to reject it all
Throw it out with the trash

Then I remember

Checking if the front door is locked
Isn’t obsessive compulsive

Feeling sad
Isn’t clinical depression

Feeling worried
Isn’t an anxiety disorder

Getting excited
Isn’t manic

Getting angry
Isn’t aggression

Criticizing
Isn’t attacking

Doubting
Isn’t faithless

So, please, God,

Grant me doubts
Rather than never thinking

Grant me criticisms
Rather than acquiescence

Grant me anger
Rather than indifference

Grant me excitement
Rather than ennui

Grant me worry
Rather than complacency

Grant me sadness
Rather than numbness

Grant me checking
Rather than carelessness

And above all

Grant me acceptance
Of myself and others

Grant me love

Saturday Morning

The unpleasant dream clings insistently
Just behind my eyes
And in clinging
Becomes dread

Dread
That leaks into my empty stomach
Filling it with shapeless weight

Dread
That trickles into my left hip
Beginning a familiar ache there

Dread
That seals my eyes
Shut

When I find the courage
To open my eyes
The pillow next to my head
Is a blurry rock
Beneath unshed tears
While surface pebbles
Scratch my watery whites

I lie suspended in Hamlet’s dilemma
Wishing for waking
Wanting more sleep
My bed cozy but confining
Comforting but uncomfortable

Perhaps, just perhaps
I should have had two not four
Fingers of whiskey last night.

Waiting

Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something. – Henri Nouwen

I try to imagine a ministry of waiting

I think of Psalm 130:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!

I think of my version:

I have to wait, wait with hope for You
But it’s so hard to just wait
Wait through this darkness
Wait through this doubt
Wait through this confusion
Wait for Your light to show me the way
The way, the truth, the life
Wait with hope, and belief in Your steadfast love

I think of waiting through a pregnancy
I think of the hope, the faith
That was such a large part of those nine months

I think of waiting for a diagnosis
The hope and fear, the faith and doubt
Paired daily in the waiting

I think of waiting through treatment
When hope becomes more determined
Doubt denied

I think of waiting without treatment
When hope is no longer in this world
When doubt is only how long

I think of waiting at my husband’s death bed
When waiting was a last opportunity
To offer love in the flesh

I remember reading to him
Cleaning him, rocking him
Crooning to him

And there, there is the model
For a ministry of waiting
Waiting is when we do our part

Waiting is faith’s quiet
Waiting is hope’s peace
Waiting is love’s work

The Frog and the Shower

It is not true about the frog.

I guess I don’t know that for sure
But I do know for sure
It is not true about me.

I love taking a shower
In our downstairs unheated bathroom
On winter evenings.

The shower curtains are too big for our shower
Because I got the dimensions wrong
And bought one too long
But not wide enough
So I bought another one
Same size
And hung them together
So the shower curtains puddle and fold
In my long shower.

The curtain(s) are almost Georgia O’Keefe
Big petalled white flowers
Big petalled yellow flowers
Big petalled white outlines
Big petalled yellow outlines
Against a gray background
All folding and puddling
In my white walled long shower
In my yellow and white
Chilly downstairs bathroom.

I’m cold
The bathroom is cold
As I get in the shower
Water already run enough
To be more than warm
On my cool skin.

Gradually, as I warm up
I turn the water hotter
But still feel the cold
Nipping around the edges
Of me and the shower
The shower walls
Stay surprisingly cool
To the touch.

There is no feeling quite like
Hot shower water
Hitting your teeth
As you stand
Mouth open
Lips pulled back
Face upturned
Under the shower head.

Gradually I turn the water
Hotter and hotter
Deliciously hot
In the cool bathroom
With the yellow ceiling
White shower walls
And wonderful
Puddling shower curtains
With big petalled flowers.

Deliciously hot
Steamy hot
As I turn my teeth
To the shower stream
Oh dear, that does sound funny
And perhaps just a bit
Like the weird old lady
I am fast becoming.

But there comes a point
A point where
No matter how gently I nudge the handle
No matter how slowly, how incrementally
How minimally I nudge the handle
The water goes from deliciously
Almost too hot
To definitely absolutely uncomfortably
Too hot.

I try again and again
Partly because I love
Staying in the warm shower
In the chilly bathroom
But always
There is that point
Beyond which I cannot go
Beyond which my body screams no.

So you see,
I do not think it can be true
About the frog.

Who Does This?

What silly teenager tells her intended
That God got her pregnant?
What stupidly in love grown man
Believes her?
What fool looks in a cow’s feeding trough
And sees a king?
What idiot follows a homeless man
Believing him to be the conqueror?
What crazy person knows their friend was executed
And then talks and walks and eats with him?
What thinking woman recognizes toxic patriarchy
And still follows Jesus?
Please, God, if You will
Give me the grace to be
A silly, stupidly in love, foolish idiot,
A crazy, thinking woman
Who follows Jesus.
Amen.

What If

[A meditation on Hebrew 10:5-10]

What if there were no Annunciation
No miraculous conception
No Magnificat?

What if there were no angels
No shepherds
No wise men?

Just a starry starry night
And a young couple
Far from home
By order of the emperor

What if there were no flight
No slaughter of the innocents
No Simeon, no Anna?

What if there were no healings
No loaves and fishes
No walking on water?

Just a conquered people
And a young man
Walking the land
Bringing hope and good news

What if there were no betrayal
No crucifixion
No resurrection?

What if there were no broken bond with God
No stain of original sin
No need for sacrifice?

Just Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary
Sent by God
To turn us away from sacrifice
And back to simple joy

What if we believed
That burnt offerings and sacrifices
Are not what God wants?

What if we believed
That God was, is always, with us
But that we need reminders?

Would that be so terrible?

To go to Jesus
Not because he was God
But because he was human

To go to Jesus
Not because of his death and resurrection
But because of his life and words

To go to Jesus because he knew
Though he was just human
That He – like all of Us –
Is Immanuel, God With Us

To go to Jesus