Saturday, July 31, 2021

Nothing to write

 Today was the last day of July. It was in the high 60's and low 70's and breezy. More like April or May than the last day of July.

(That was all I had to say until I got the newsletter of St. Paul's/St. James in New Haven, the parish I served when if was still St. Paul's. The priest there now is Harlan Dalton, who was a member when I was there. He was a professor at Yale Law School but decided to become a priest. Today he was having the same problem I have--nothing to say....Until he created this. I wanted to share it with you.)

July 31, 2021

Dear Friends, 

About 40 minutes ago I said to Jill “I haven’t written my weekly parish letter yet.” She said, “I figured. You should probably get started,” to which I replied “I go nothing.” Jill then said, “Why don’t you just share a poem. Also, I think it would be good for you to acknowledge that you are feeling a bit run down.  They will understand.”

I almost always take Jill’s advice (I am no dummy), so I opened the Kindle app on my tablet and began to scroll through my library. Almost immediately my eyes landed on a volume of poetry that I don’t recall ever actually reading. I must have downloaded it a while ago, along with some other books, and figured I would get back to it later.  

I opened the volume, The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog by Alicia Suskin Ostriker, and for the past half hour have been utterly transported. I am still run down, of course, but I am grinning from ear to ear, which is never a bad thing. 

The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog begins with an epigram from Gertrude Stein. “A very important thing is not to make up your mind that you are any one thing.” Then comes the Table of Contents, a list of 40 some odd short poems, each featuring an elderly female, a flower associated with The Netherlands, and a canine. Here are a few of them, each followed by a one sentence blessing from yours truly.

“The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog”

To be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God’s love
Washes right through you
Like milk through a cow

To be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended

To be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other dogs
can smell it

May you have a pinch of God inside you.
(You do, I promise you, have a pinch of God....Shalom, Jim and thanks, Harlan!)

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.