The Priest the Church Needs Today

You are the priest the church needs today:
For the fifteen-year-old girl
who was raped
by someone she trusted
who is just uncovering her pain,
and has no one to talk to
especially not a priest.

For the seventeen-year-old transgender woman
who thought the transition
would make everything better,
but still she lives
in the spotlight of loneliness
and wonders if it’s all worth it,
and has no one to talk to
especially not a priest.

For the thirty-seven-year-old mother
who loves her son with muscular dystrophy
more than she can bear
and needs a rest and a loving ear.

For the forty-five-year-old couple
whose life seems perfect
as they help with coffee hour
because they hide the bruises
from their bitter fights so well
and can’t talk to anyone about it,
especially not a priest.

For the fifty-three-year-old wife
whose life did not turn out as planned.
Now she has the same symptoms
her mother had
at the onset of her cancer,
and has no one to talk to,
especially not a priest.

For the sixty-two-year-old homeless man
who tries so hard
to address his substance abuse problems
and put his life back together,
but the ancient traumas are too great,
and no one understands,
especially not a priest.

For the eighty-seven-year-old widow
who has never, in all her life,
let her children know
about her child born out of wedlock
that they always called their cousin.
and it is too late to tell anyone
especially not a priest.

And every day, more people are hurt,
often by the church itself,
and you are needed to be
the priest they can tell.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, April 2021

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. The wind blows outside like it is the beginning of March instead of the beginning of April. The crocuses are up but the lilacs have yet to mix memory and desire. It is National Poetry Month.

I have not written for my blog in nearly a year; since National Poetry Month last year. My personal writing had waned as I started seminary and the pandemic put it on a long-term hiatus. Now, God willing, I am less than three months away from completing seminary. Now, God willing, despite the recent variations in the virus and the rising number of cases, large-scale vaccination will get the pandemic under control.

I am hesitant to make a commitment to my personal writing at this juncture. April will be a long hard month, with lots of schoolwork, and made harder by my wife’s upcoming surgery. Yet it is April, a time for new dreams and new hopes. Can I fit a daily poetic examen back into my schedule? Can I write about other things without getting too bogged down in politics or recent schoolwork? We shall see.

In the news, there is talk of a large national infrastructure bill. There has been another mass shooting. The police officer who killed George Floyd is on trial. I’ll skip these for the time being.

In my schoolwork, I’ve started to read some of Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture for my class on James Baldwin. I turned in a paper starting to explore some of this for class this morning. There’s a lot to unpack there, and perhaps I will at a later point.

It is also Maundy Thursday. I will help with a vaccine clinic in the afternoon, and then head up to help with the service in the evening.

Coronavirus Poetry about Productivity on Cold Mountain

For the past few years, I’ve been seriously overscheduled. I’ve been working full time and supporting my family as I work on an M. Div. in seminary. The past several months became more overscheduled as I started my internship at a nearby church. Now, we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are furloughed or working from home with fewer work demands. I am part of a communications team for a health care organization, so I’ve been working harder than ever. Likewise, the church I serve at has moved to online services. As a digital communications specialist, this has resulted in a lot more for me to do for church as well. To top it all off, we are entering Holy Week.

There are so many things I would like to be doing or feel like I should be doing. For our wellness program at work, I had a goal of walking at least 6,000 steps each day. I completed that in January when I was on campus in California. February was not so successful. March was looking really promising until the final few days of the month. April hasn’t started off all that well either.

Also, April is National Poetry Month. Other years, I wrote a poem every day for National Poetry Month. I would have liked to have done that this year. I would like to be journaling every day during the pandemic. I am working on a research paper for my class on Buddhism in the West. I’m exploring the impact of Buddhism on American Poetry and am, among other things, reading Han Shan. Really, I’d love to write a journal/poem each day addressing the coronavirus tied to poems of Han Shan.

Yet I’m tired. Really tired. It doesn’t seem like I should be so tired, especially if I’m not getting time to get out and walk. It occurred to me, this morning, however, that part of the reason I’m so tired is because of the heavy weight I’m carrying, the heavy weight we’re all carrying. It is okay to be tired. It is okay to grieve. It is okay to be sad.

A couple article have been talking about this in terms of productivity. The New York Times has told us to Stop Trying to Be Productive and the Chronicle of Higher Education is talking about Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure.

So, you’ll probably have to wait a little longer for the Han Shan inspired coronavirus journal entry.

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Coronavirus Log 3/24/2020

Tuesday morning. It is chilly outside. We had a light snow yesterday and some of the snow is still on the ground. Even though I was working from home, it was incredibly busy and today looks like it will be very busy as well. I didn’t get a chance to go on my walk yesterday and I have to figure when I can fit it in for today. It is wearing me down a little.

Yesterday, I heard that the friend of a friend of mine has been hospitalized with difficulty breathing and a high fever. She has not been tested for the coronavirus, but everyone is pretty sure that is what it is and my friend is self-quarantining. She and her partner are very anxious. I also attended an online ordination last night. The priest went to the same discernment retreat as I did several years ago. It was a bittersweet service in many ways. It was supposed to be in Middletown on Wednesday for the feast of the Annunciation, but it was moved online because of the coronavirus. It was a wonderful and joyous ordination, but we could not hug the new priest or congratulate her face to face. There was also a touch of sadness as I continue to see people whose journeys have crossed with mine becoming priests and I am left with no clear path.

With all that is going on, my studies have not been as productive as I would like, but it is reading week, so I don’t have to fret too much about it.

Stay safe, everyone.

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Coronavirus Log 3/23/2020

This morning is the first time I am working from home on account of the coronavirus. I had the option last week, but many of my coworkers were working from home, so I could actually work from the office and maintain proper social distancing. As things close continue to close down, I have switched to working from home.

I’m trying to keep my new schedule as similar as possible to my old schedule. Some of this is for the sake of productivity. Some of it is for the sake of sanity. Some of this is because I’m interested in how Benedictine rules of life can help in times like these.

I did stay up a little later than usual last night as I dealt with church issues, so I slept a little later than usual this morning. Yet at around 6 AM, I updated the CDSP Virtual Daily Office. I’ve been doing this pretty regularly since the person who originally set it up graduated. I will plan on doing Morning Prayer at 7:30, as is normal, and then having a breakfast of oatmeal and raisins afterward.

This is also reading week for classes, so I don’t have quite the same schedule for my classes. I need to write up what I’m doing for Field Education and continue my research on the impact of American Buddhism on the Beat Generation.

For church yesterday, we had a small group at the church and livestreamed the service on Zoom and Facebook. I edited the video and posted it on Youtube: The Fourth Sunday of Lent - Refreshment Sunday – 2020. We had a few glitches and the video quality was subpar, but the service went well. I got additional ideas on how to improve the broadcast, and I’m looking forward to future broadcasts, assuming I can still get to church to make them.

Related to my research, I’ve been listening to an audiobook “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac as I drive and as I go for my walks. I drive to Hartford as I listen to Kerouac talking about hitch rides to Frisco. I walk around a town park as I listen to Kerouac talk about walking through Harrisburg, PA, trying to find a ride back to New York. It provides an interesting mental backdrop to our world struggling through the coronavirus.

I’m doing a good job of keeping my sleep and exercise regular, which also helps, and work is more than busy. Hopefully, this journal will help as well.

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