One day thought’s Gethsemane Like some personal handicap Or guilt, will venerate the image Of its last nativity, will fold Its wings away and say, “The bird of doubt has gone today.”
And all the “how could I be So stupid” habit of the soul Will harden to a pigment Like raven’s feathers, painted And set on an ancient canvas, Giving up its foreground To a moment’s peace in that journey Of escape from Bethlehem of birth.
Just as in David’s “Rest on the Flight Into Egypt,” an angel having whispered Of slaughter, “You must leave, Joseph,” He, knocking walnuts from the tree, The donkey munching quietly some hay, His son reaching up for grapes, A young child’s suffering at play, Not thinking yet, “I must, they say.”
And Mary, seated on a rock, After long labor, serene as Nazareth, building her pyramid.
Just after we’ve communally stuffed and thanked, the first sleet comes down in shanks of dirty lambs’ wool, rude messy sheets, slathering the cars we hunch in, hurrying again, against some febrile deadline, dodging the poor squiggling squirrel trying to shoot across the heavy-metal trafficked road that intersects his world.
He seems to have made it, tail on. We may, too, make it home, untripped this time by our own haste, knowing in some dark artery that the meal we need, the company against the cold, like the animals in the Ark, are all waiting, like Advent, inside the small rooms of the remaining calendar, we pass through, one by one.
Skip the American movie version of this story and view the series made by BBC for television. Focused on the press and shady doings in the upper echelons of government, this investigation of a murder unfolds over six hours. The depth of characterization gets viewers invested in the story and makes the suspense all the more (pleasantly) unbearable.
Here are choral works by a teenaged Felix Mendelssohn, including large-scale settings of the Magnificat and Gloria, along with some shorter works. The influences of Bach and Haydn are evident in the early work of the composer, who would go on to write Elijah and St. Paul.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.
Between 1990 and 2010, Iowa lost over 500 churches. The numbers reflect migration from rural to urban areas and the fewer number of people who identify with a faith community. The decline in churches is having a direct effect on the social fabric of the state. According to research at Iowa State University, nine out of ten rural people said they rely less on their neighbors than they once did. Surviving churches have gone back to older patterns to find leadership, engaging itinerant pastors or lay leaders. Some are surviving through cooperation with other denominations or with ethnic Christian groups (Pacific Standard, January 20).