Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thinking About Thin Places As Halloween Approaches

Last week I got my contributor copy of Florida English.  What a beautiful journal!  You still have plenty of time to submit and have your work considered for the 2012 issue; the deadline is April 15.

My poem that appears in the journal is more appropriate for Holy Week than for the days when our attention turns to Halloween.  Or is it?  We've been having springlike weather here.  But I know that's not true for most of my readers.

The poem talks about thin places, and Halloween is one of the most famous thin places of all.  What's a thin place, you ask?  Spiritually, it's the place where this world and the spirit world come into closest contact.

Maundy Thursday at Hartsfield

We long for Celestial food, or at least to leave our earthbound
selves behind, but it is not to be. The airport shuts
down as late thunderstorms sweep across the south.
I resign myself to spending Maundy Thursday in the airport.

One of a minority who even knows the meaning of Maundy,
I roam restlessly. I cannot even approximate
a Last Supper—the only food to be had is fast
and disgusting. I think of that distant
Passover, the Last Supper that transformed
us into a Eucharistic people.

A distant outpost of a vast empire, teeming
with a variety of humans, all hurrying
and keeping our heads down: Jerusalem or the modern
airport? I watch my fellow humans, notice
the hunger in their faces, their haunted feet,
so in need of love and water.

I watch Spring Breakers and athletes and moms
and gnarled elders and unattached children, all racing
through their earthly days, hurtling through time,
crossing continents, without any rituals to ground
them. I think of Christ’s radical
agenda: homelessness, care, and listening,
ignoring rules that made no sense,
making scarce resources stretch,
food eaten on the run, a community hunted
by their own and by the alien government.
I miss my own church, by now gathered in a dark
sanctuary, participating in ancient rituals
we don’t fully understand, looking for that thin
place between the sacred and the every day.

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