Soon I leave for church. No longer do churches have a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper and then the next day, an Ash Wednesday service, at least not down here. We'll have a pancake supper and move into Ash Wednesday. We'll get our foreheads smudged with ash and be reminded that we're made from dust and all to soon, we'll return to dust. If you want to read more of my theological thoughts on Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent (and other topics), head over to my other blog.
I've written several poems that I really love that focus on Ash Wednesday, but so far they haven't been published, so I don't want to post them here.
But when looking through my files, this poem seemed appropriate. I wrote it during my adjunct years, when I drove across three counties, filling my gas tank several times a week, teaching Composition here (and there and everywhere!), Literature survey classes there, Victorian and Romantic Lit classes in yet a different location.
I had just taught Julian of Norwich, and I was thinking of her days as an anchoress, when this poem came to me. It was published in my chapbook, Whistling Past the Graveyard.
My Habit, My Hairshirt
A modern day anchoress, I commit
myself to my car. In my moving cell,
I sing constantly and pray without ceasing.
I dedicate myself to our modern religion
of hectic pace. I rush from one location to another,
showing my devotion in twelve hour increments.
No time for contemplation, the anathema
to the modern ascetic. I flog
myself with my cell phone and briefcase.
Occasionally, a heretical urge lures
me, a siren song urging me to slow down,
tempting me to tame my frantic schedule.
But no Gnostic visions for me. I race
through another week in the grip of my Daytimer,
my habit, my hairshirt.
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