Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Memoir Musings Part Two: Priest's Song

It’s April Fools’ Day and I should be writing about fools or at least April, but instead I continue my memoir musings with this poem.

Actually it is about some kind of foolishness —the kind I felt trying to get the church to ordain me when my life was messy, euphemistically, and I was lost in my wilderness. Growing up is be definition chaotic. You try all kinds of different behaviors, taste all kinds of different treats, experiment with all kinds of different role-free relationships and create grand messes only you can clean up. It’s painful and exhilarating.

Imagine my hoping and praying that the Episcopal church, known both for its breadth of heart and its stuffiness of mind, would find me acceptable for ordination anyway.

I didn’t write this poem in my wilderness state. I wrote it it after my lostness and my acting up days were, at least for a time, done with. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote his famous Serenity Prayer before he had to live its wisdom in the midst of a stroke. Before or after, I guess most people don’t write clear-headed wisdom in the middle of stark vulnerability. (Jesus didn’t recite all that biblical wisdom while stretched thin and gasping on a wooden cross. His followers knew what he would say if he could and wrote it much later.)

So I wrote my song of hope after I was ordained, remembering how it had been to be longing, lost and lonely—unwanted.


When I have no title
I make
one up - irreverend.

When I have no collar
I roll
my neck round.

When I have no church
I steeple
my fingers.

When I have no pulpit
I preach

When I have no altar
I celebrate
my back yard.

When I have no wine
I weep
blood tears.

When I have no bread
I am
a sacrament.

When I have no God
I pray
anyway. (this poem is published in Women’s Uncommon Prayers)