Archive for May, 2007

Change and Loss

My mother had her 87th birthday this week. We had a long conversation. Two more of her peers–friends from my childhood, have fallen asleep in the past week. She is making plans to move out of the house we moved into just before my ninth birthday–52 + years ago, and into an elder community with provisions for graduated care as time goes by. Anticipating this, I wrote this poem some time ago.

You have always taught us that everything
in its earthly form will change.
So I am not surprised when I see it in a dream
But I wake up, if not weeping, still forlorn
at seeing my dead brother in a strange room
looking only vaguely like himself
and a beautiful tall and gifted young friend,
now with crippled, withered, truncated limbs.
But in the dream I am the lost one
and she makes light of the despair I feel
at having lost myself and my way out
of this dilemma.
I have again–as many times in dreams before,
lost my car–my means of transport, and as if it follows naturally,
my way in life.

Nothing is familiar.
Distances and obstacles grow before my eyes.
Friends are dying every week.
It is the old ones, dear ones.
When hometown friends are gone,
can it still be considered home?
Home is the place of being in communion,
and that is with persons.
It will be my mother some day–soon or later.
A call one day–your mother is ill,
is dying, has died. Come quickly.
And home–the house, the neighborhood,
still mine till now for walks,
for coming back to,
will lose its way of being mine–
No longer except in memory the place from which I went out
and to which I have returned
and gone out and returned again.
“My room” with the same paper on the walls–
and so on throughout the house,
the patterns I have followed without having to reconsider,
the habit of my feet, even in my mind a well worn path,
will be ploughed under for new paths to be worn
under the feet of strangers.

Do I weep now for loss that is to come?
Perhaps it has been happening all along,
and in this gradual way, will be a mercy.
The crossing from the substance which feeds but fades
to the communion that transforms us into its life
will always be saving us.

Fall 2004

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About the Samaritan Woman…

and her meeting with Jesus at the well, where she was drawing water.
There is a moment I would like to hold up,
A point of light that has pierced the eye of my heart.
I know that I will have to be satisfied with walking around it,
as it is not the kind of thing that can be pinned down.
Here it is:
That Jesus saw her,
and when that dawned on her,
she was never the same.
In the light of His countenance she was undone,
unwound from her syndrome, wounded with eternity.
In a moment her desire was turned inside out, transfigured.
What possessed her now could no longer be her fragmented,
meandering and wandering ways,
but His seeing of her, and beyond all that she had been,
His showing her and freely offering her
what He knew she had always desired,
beyond her own knowing.
He was not looking at her askance to cast her down.
He was not rebuking her or taunting her,
not dwelling on her miserable failures.
In His knowing, He was turning a light on in her,
springing her out of prison.
The miracle is that she saw HIM,
and so, extricated from her shame,
shot full of wonder and expectation,
she bounded with joy into the town to share this news,
that she had found a man–the seventh one–
that knew her as she had never been known.

Christ God, my Lord and Savior,
I see that you come to me as to that woman,
that you can open my eyes and my heart as you did hers.
You offer me yourself even today
in the cup of Your Life.
As I approach and partake, may the light of Your Presence
pour into the dark well of my confused passions,
a provision of the Living Water
now and unto the ages of ages. Amen

May 6, 2007, The Fifth Sunday of PASCHA, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman


Note: According to the tradition of the Orthodox Church, the Samaritan woman, who is commemorated on this day, bears the name of Photini: light. She is counted as the first missionary.


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