Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This story or poetic recollection of praying with the Sisters is about impetuousness, or else the Holy Spirit. The church is a living place.
I sometimes wish I had not done something, or said something. Then I try to find a way to make it better, if it comes along. Here in this telling, I was moved by the need to get on my knees. What I wanted to be better was no loss, no mourning, no tears, no coming and waiting for the Kingdom, some way to end the ache and the loneliness, and a means to reach out as a human being.
The situation was like the time I entered into church early one day and only the minister was there. I cried out, "Reveal yourself." My call was to God. Daring cry in the almost empty church, but I was full of song and heard the Lord and heavens singing.
How does one confess ones mistakes, glorious moments as a fool in the spirit, and simply times of saying the thing that is all right in a given context but wrong in another. Or so is thought at the moment, when not so. Is the result this answer: Many times these things have a way of working themselves to the best.
There is an awe to responding to God. We were doing that in the evening, when it was dark, in our aloneness and togetherness.
I hope this is so since in this situation no one minded my getting on my knees and praying. Me and the Nuns, that's what we did. This was one of those times when I think God was pleased. I wanted to tell about it because there is a certain truth in this kind of experience, one of praying with people one doesn't know in a church one's never been to with religious people one never saw before for a woman who died and is missed and at the time surrounded mostly by friends. I think I know that going home time, those moments when things aren't always the same, when Christ is near, and also when I, too, carried someone else's cross.
Thank God others have helped me with mine.
Have I evoked the neighborhood nature of the experience with the worldly famous during the unfathonable? If not, let me tell you the spiritual reality is true and real. Maybe it was a one time life thing, but I want to reach out some more and also be. This was a hard poem for me to write for all the reasons I tell about in this note to the poem.
I want to let this poem rest here a while because here is where responsibility and friendship for another was a matter of respect. We exalted the ordinary that night.
My notes above are from the original post on The Atlantic Monthly poetry board in 2001. They are exactly as posted. Now the poem:
When I Prayed with Sisters of Charity
by Peter Menkin - Mar 26, 2001
one waits when
there is a coffin
in the church.
I have cried. Her
mother was dead
and though not mine,
nor my Church, prayer
was what I needed.
Her mother must
have been a devout
woman, I thought,
though my companion
with whom I'd arrived
was not. In the
I got to my
Sisters of Charity,
too, were praying.
I think that
this helped, their
that night time
in the city
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