"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

26 May 2012

A Poem for a Saturday

I was first introduced to Kathleen Norris early in my undergraduate years. One of my favorite professors would read excerpts of Norris' writing to us,  and one of the texts for a writing class I took from that same professor was Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. From there, I read Cloister Walk and Dakota.  I discovered this week that our public library has the Norris canon in almost its entirety, so I went a little click-happy reserving the books online.

I fetched them from the library today after our usual Saturday morning jaunt to the farmers' market and immediately starting savoring the lines of Little Girls in Church in the parking lot of WalMart as Little B napped and N ran in to get Draino for our clogged shower.

"Cinderella in Kalamazoo"
Kathleen Norris

Unaccustomed to rain, hills,
trees overhead
gentle as a lover's hands,
I pass the student center, where
medievalists crowd the cash bar,
pause on the steep path
to the dorm, remove my shoes
and am carried for a time
on waters deep as liturgy,
rain sifting through trees
like unexplained tears.
Compline has ended: Cistercians observing
Bernard of Clairvaux's nine-hundredth year
sang the "Salve Regina"
to a perfect, oceanic stillness.

and built like a barrel,
the hem of his habit rolling
like waves onto shore, my unlikely fairy godmother
bade me sing. "This is not
a spectator sport," he boomed, inviting me
to learn the chant. And as I joined the others
on the wild green ride
our song became conveyance,
a glorious means of passage
along a narrow road.

"Can you help me?" asks a monk at the door.
Midnight strikes
as we move a table into place
for morning Mass.
I'll be gone by then, on a flight
to the known world, back
through two time zones, my shoes
still soggy, to my drought-stricken plain;
back to my life, the man I love.
I will find it changed,
a dusty old house
where doors no longer fit their frames.

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