Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two poetic musings on vocation

On a recent silent retreat at St. Mary's Retreat Center in Sewanee, Tennessee,  I started writing a bunch of poetry.  Part of the inspiration came from reading Old Monk, a collection of poetry written by Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine Sister in Erie, PA.  (Old Monk can be ordered from Benetvision.)

Below are two poems in response to what Mary Lou had written.  The first jumps off a quote from her friend who says that it's not why you came to the monastery, but why you stayed that's important.  The second comes from asking myself where I stand.

If you like these, I've got some more that will be posted in the coming days.  Put your e-mail address in the subscription box to the right and they'll be sent to you.


I come into church
      Sunday after Sunday
      and almost every day in between.
Once I would have said I was called,
      holding ten talents I dared not bury.
      "Build a career in the Church -- ah, good,"
      as one nonagenarian said to me in seminary.
Really, though
      I feared the talents I held were tin,
            not gold,
      and I needed to hear
            someone say
                  they weren't wasted.
But now,
      why not come?
They let me sing
      and pray
            and dress in colorful capes
                  and bless with abandon.
While every week
      I stand up and lay bare
      how God touched my soul.


"Decide where you stand
      and stand there."
      So says Dan Berrigan
      and also, more or less, R.E.M.
I stand at the altar.
      Sometimes in a church;
      Sometimes in the city;
      Sometimes in my home.
Calling forth the Body of Christ
      in the gifts laid upon it
      and in the souls
            standing round it.

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