Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayers in Pottery; Perspective in Poetry

Today is a day of meetings, some of which may be ugly and filled with bad news.  Our morning meeting is about the numbers, which are not where the people in charge would like them to be.  The afternoon meeting is about the redesign of the English Composition class.  Maybe there will be contentious disagreement about how to do it. Or maybe not.

In any case, it seems a good day to post this picture.  I took it at Mepkin Abbey.  It's a sign made of pottery.  Or should I say a pottery prayer?

You might be asking, haven't you already had these kinds of meetings?  Yes, yes we have.  In fact, I was remembering a post that I wrote; imagine my surprise to see the date of 2010.  This post has a prayer that I wrote for meetings that I faced that day.  I'll be praying it again today.

And maybe it's a good day for a poem, a poem that takes place on another day of bad news.  I'm not sure it works as a poem, but it helps me keep perspective.  It's a true story; on the day that the DOW tumbled into the 7000-8000 range back in 2008, we went downtown with our suburban church to serve dinner to the homeless at the urban church.  I was struck by all the contrasts of the day.  What is wealth?  How much is enough?

I suspect I'll be thinking about some of the same questions today.  I suspect today will be a day when I think about social justice in ways that others might not be.

In any case, here's the poem.

In the Soup

While we drove to the downtown church,
the DOW closes
at its lowest
since 2002 or 1987
or some year during
The Great Depression;
who can keep track
of this bad news?

 We prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,
and I think of you and long
car trips, PBJs and a thermos of hot coffee
driving through the darkness
with only our singing voices to light the way.

We dish out soup and sliced
bread.  I think of my shrinking retirement fund.
I watch the men with shaking hands slather
margarine on the bread:  cheap calories.

After dinner, we gather in the chapel.
The pastor collects our prayers.
I think about poems and promotions,
while a homeless man mutters,
“May we find food tomorrow.”


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