HORACE by Ann

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BAD RELIGION

Bad religion says “Put God first.”
Good religion says “There’s no first!
We all live in God.”

Good religion makes souls bigger.
Bad religion shrinks them.

Good religion gives you only two commandments
(Love God and love your neighbor),
and lets you figure out the details.
Bad religion starts with ten,
and multiplies them into sub-commandments.

Bad religion says it’s THE ONLY WAY,
while good religion humbly considers
these words of Pope Francis:

“Many think differently,
feel differently,
seeking God
or meeting God in different ways.
In this crowd,
in this range of religions,
there is only one certainty that we have for all:
we are all children of God.”

TUESDAY BEFORE LENT

Worms, like robins, are sure signs of spring.
I see them on the sidewalk as I walk down State Street in the morning rain.
I suppose the young priest at St. Paul’s
is going through his Lenten notes,
making a long list for us, a list of suggested standard penances.

I don’t suppose, Father, you could approach the whole Lent thing with
lightheartedness and joy?
Please don’t do Psalm 22 and tell us all what worms we are.
That would be an insult to a few thousand magnificent species of invertebrates.

I was young once, too, Young Father.
I was a young nun supposedly espoused to Jesus Christ.
I would jump out of bed at 5:45 a.m., make the Sign of the Cross and dress quickly, with a memorized prayer for each piece of my clothes.
I would race to the chapel and genuflect gracefully
and try not to sleep during morning prayer, meditation, Office and Mass.

I was young once, too, Young Father,
one of the fresh-faced novices whose jawbones and foreheads
always hurt because of that starched headdress.
We vied with each other in practicing heroic virtue.
We took pride in saying cross prayer until our arms went numb.

And then we learned that older Sisters didn’t abide
by all the pesky rules, but they had something else inside.
They said we had “first fervor” as if it were a childhood disease.

I won’t be doing penances in Lent this year.
I’ll jump out of bed and greet the growing spring.

INAUGURATION DAY 2009

Now that we have reached Critical Mass,
Ayman al-Zawahiri calls our new president
a house negro, and we aren’t mad, we
just smile because it sounds so silly.

And when Rush Limbaugh sputters
that the majority of Americans
didn’t actually elect this president,
they just stayed home on Election Day,
it makes us want to hug and soothe his Inner Child.
“Poor Rush, it will be okay.”

And now that we have reached Critical Mass,
the media are nursing
Sarah Palin’s wounds.

Now that we have reached Critical Mass,
the leftover hot dogs from
the UW men’s basketball games
are no longer being thrown away
but are lovingly wrapped and given
to a food pantry.

Now that we have reached Critical Mass,
when Flight 1549 has to land
in the Hudson River,
ferry boats are there in thirty seconds
to save everyone on board.

The doctrine of Critical Mass teaches
that when the right amount of minds rise up,
the rest of us feel lighter, too.

But what about old energies?
They’re slowly, surely, drying up,
receding into shallow, stinky pools.
Their poison seems more potent
and more threatening,
but, really, it is drying up.

Every day now is a Crisis,
in the good sense of the word.

TREAT IT LIKE A HURRICANE

Shortly after 2 a.m. on November 9, 2016,
Hurricane Donald made landfall
in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The storm surge covered
an entire country.

What do you do in a hurricane?
If you have not evacuated,
you hunker down.
You reassure the children.
The next day you check on all your neighbors.

You assess the damage and pick up the pieces.
When the power outages are corrected and the lights come back on,
you resolve to rebuild,
no matter how long it takes.