Gun metal gray the sky this morning and along the shore at dead low tide an on-shore wind blows spume across the wave tops. Rain before dark, they say, and even some late snow to dash our dawning dreams of green and blossoming. Undaunted, a new pair of mallards— splendid headed male and female—inaugurate the new-thawed pool beside the dog run of our ocean-front retirement home. Silent, they move across, now venturing among the reeds to break their long migrating fast, and seek a secure nesting place to lay the future. Blessing their ancient quest, I call to mind one week ago, on this same daybreak dog walk, I was surprised, almost alarmed, by one great, stately snow white egret, with his mate, also foraging among the weeds, as the larger of them rose, spread his quite angelic wings, and wafted a bright unexpected blessing to my aging head, as he moved on in search of richer waters.
I read a poem each Sunday Our pastor calls this Ministry of Verse I try to find a poem not just she but anyone will get A short poem if I can for fear someone like Timmy who isn’t all that into poems to begin with may complain
I try to select some lines that represent what I believe and more or less what the people there believe I have friends too outside the church who cannot believe that I in fact believe say in miracles They ask can you really believe they’re true
exactly Poems cannot be exact I’m thinking how I’ll sound My vanity lives on I don’t read my poems which grow shorter as I grow old I once imagined I must go on and on to get at things I thought I knew but I know more than ever
I know nothing now No my friends I don’t believe exactly in miracles I believe inexactly I see Mary Magdalene just for instance in that garden quite unclearly Still I see her I see Tess as well who’s married to Timmy
and seems confused Well she is confused Dementia has her down Her husband’s there He holds her hand Timmy holds things together I’ve thought at times like anybody I couldn’t hold my own yet I’m alive I hear a bird sing one small massive wonder
So that things contrary to common sense Seem suddenly truth revealed And some unappealing sight Is clearly Imago Dei, devilishly alight As though lit within at core By the very darkness we abhor And symbols of my soul’s best hope are cast As models of betrayal, despair and death; Then, Eve’s fruit tasted and offered to Adam Becomes Mary’s Gift as First Fruit Of a new covenant of pardon And the abandoned Garden Because of Him Becomes the New Jerusalem;
So, let that mind be also in me, The one that takes in my off-stage acts, You know, Those walk-the-walk naked facts, Even my sneaky judas-pacts And transforms them all Into something nothing short of new, Like being born, Like out of any godforsaken Friday Easter morn.
So Jesus’ wealthy friends did prove useful in the end. All four narratives seem to agree on this. Joseph, after all—the one from Arimathea, not his Dad— Joseph pulled strings with Pilate. Did he have to call in a few favors earned in questionable ways so he could claim possession of the corpse? Old Nicodemus too, Jesus’ night-shift friend from the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus makes his own fleeting reprise, carting along a ton—almost—of fragrant spices, nard and myrrh (again!), for preservation purposes. Although where he got such pricey stuff, late on a holiday Friday afternoon, is never quite explained. And that convenient, fresh-hewn, garden tomb; even back in the day, sepulchres such as those did not come ten-a-penny! Add in all the hired help they must have needed to get stuff from here to there and, of course, to roll and seal that massive rock . . . Whole thing makes you wonder—doesn’t it?— wonder if that narrow needle’s eye got prized wide open— camel-size, at least—to accommodate these late allies.
Holy Week and three buffleheads on the cold river practice the rite of baptism. Their preference: complete immersion. Again and again they duck and disappear into ice-cold darkness, then emerge, shaking a zillion stars from their feathers. As if there is never enough purification, they plunge down deep and rise and dive and rise again. The week winds down, down down toward Friday. Temple draperies are torn. Darkness enfolds the earth. The dead in their stone tombs have begun stirring as if, like the sun in the morning, they will rise.