This week, I got my contributor copy of Slant. Last night, I had a chance to read it. What a wondrous thing, that a journal completely devoted to poetry is still being published. And what a wondrous thing that it is one of many journals.
This poem came to me at Mepkin Abbey. My friends and I talked about what it means to take a monastic vow, and we wondered how family members felt about it. And on the long drive back to South Florida, this poem began to percolate.
Vow of Stability
Their friends wonder why
they’re happy to have their only child
disappear into a monastery.
Their communication will be limited.
Their visits will be rare.
Yet they are pleased, even relieved,
to accept their son’s vocation.
This sense of purpose comforts
them. They know their boy has wrestled
with calls of a different kind.
They know their child will be cared
for, with regular meals and a work schedule
and fatherly oversight from the abbot.
They know their child’s choices
about retirement and old age
have been made.
They have a bit of sadness
for grandchildren he will never give
them, but they know of many fine
children outside the monastery
walls who haven’t formed families
the way their son has done.
They drive back from the cloister
and spend the night in their son’s old
room, the trophies from a an athlete’s
life long over, the books about boy wizards
and detectives, a leftover Lego construction.
They whisper the bedtime prayers
of childhood and hold each other close.