Three Conversations (or is that conversions?) #HolyWeek

Three Conversations (or is that conversions?) #HolyWeek March 31, 2018

1. Ash Wednesday

There will be ashes at the first, she said
that clear and cool Ash Wednesday afternoon.
There will be ashes, but then at the end
you will receive a crown of beauty. Wait.
I did not know whether I could believe
or if her prophecy was wishful thought
as I foresaw a long Lent, full of grey
and foggy morning prayers, of words in haste,
of self-denial with mixed motives, loss
without a name, forgiveness left unsought,
few tears left falling though much pain had passed,
and in the middle of this Holy Week
a second cup of coffee, bitter, cold.

2. Palm Sunday

I said, Sometimes the seasons of your life
don’t fit the season’s of the church’s year
as well as you might like.  He shook his head.
You’d be surprised, he said.  Easter will come
for you when Easter comes.  I wondered how
and nursed my bitter coffee as he talked
of grace poured out, of healing without pause,
of giving things away, of choices made,
of celebrations, confirmations, peace.
I used to cherish drama, look for thoughts
to be continued, and coincidence
to show the hand of God.  This Holy Week
I heard a sermon where the preacher spoke
of crowns of beauty; once I would have cried,
but all I felt was silence in my soul.
Oh, there has been a moment here and there
in quiet comments, overheard remarks,
a compliment I did not ask for, jokes
I laughed at even as the aching stayed,
an early Easter card, a breeze-cooled night
when I went looking for a shooting star
I didn’t find, the word appreciate,
tears at a movie, weekly bread and wine;
but no coincidence, and nothing sweet.

3. Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday I took my book
of prayers and psalms; it was too late to read,
but not to think or to remember: prayers
offered for healing without knowing how
or if they had made any difference; deaths
both unexpected and unsought; a friend
who might be leaving before I could say
appreciate; unfaithful fasts; too much
self-pity, very little contrite heart.
I moved my bookmark from the Friday night
where it had spent all Lent, the office there
full of cold coffee and contrition. Now
our Passiontide was over.  Now the light
already broke the darkness, vigils kept
of celebrations, confirmations, peace.
I marked my place in Sunday morning, thought:
no crown without cold coffee and the cross,
no Easter without Lent, no ashless grace,
no keeping without losing.  Rise, I said
to Sunday morning and my heart.  Time’s come.

~April 1996

Image: Pexels

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