Something holy

In church last Sunday
I sang the hymns
And spoke the prayers
Knelt and stood and sat
In all the right places
And I waited to feel
Something holy

On the el tonight
I read poetry by Rumi
And often his words
Were over my head
But they entered my heart
And I was moved to tears
And it felt holy

In the dark places

Is God only to be found in flowers
And sunsets and smiles and morning lake mist
Or is he also present in the dark places
In the tears and terror and numbness

Perhaps he is there
But I have not been looking

In my despair
As I backed a rental car out of the driveway
And followed a moving van
And all of my earthly possessions
Down the road from my house and husband
And our decade of marriage

Perhaps God was there
But I could not see him
Through the tears in my eyes

In my fear
As I lay on a white-sheeted exam table
Allowing my insides to be probed
And stretched and pulled until I broke
Spilling my blood onto that whiteness
Draining it from my face until I was faint
And the PT fed me yogurt

Perhaps God was there
But I could not hear him
Over the pounding of my heart

In the terror
Of those never-ending moments
Weeping on a plane to Dallas
Reading the only magazine in the seat back
Sounding out words in a language I don’t speak
Body tense for every tremor and bump
While other passengers dreamed of beaches
Or read their frivolous airport novels

Perhaps God was there
But I could not feel him
Put his hand on my shoulder

Words of a wise man say
Welcome the darkness
Embrace it
For it will “sweep your house clean”
Prepare you for better things

If I invite the darkness in
Offer it a chair, a cup of coffee
Will God come with it
Will he be there
If I look and listen closely
To all my dark places

Churches, trains and monks, oh my

I have sat in plenty of church pews;
  heard many a priest or deacon lecture
From plain altars in farm town parishes
  to urban cathedrals dripping with statuary.
The Catholicism of my college was not
  a conscious choice, but delivered unto me
Music theory with Sister Margaret,
  Aristotle’s ethics with Father David.
I kept the Easter vigil at St. Procopius
  and read from the Rule of St. Benedict
Embracing their moderation and community
  and, oh yes: ora et labora

I trekked with Father Michael
  to the churches of France and England
In and out of Chartres and Canterbury
  up and down Westminster Abbey
I heard mass at a church in Rheims
  half in English, half in French
Crossed at low tide to Mont Saint-Michel
  more than enough to stir the soul

But I find more of God
  in a few verses of song
Than in all the official holiness
  of stained glass and censers
And I hear more of God
  in the guitars of modern troubadours
In the strings and ivories of Mozart
  and the chorus of Beethoven’s Ninth 
In a cello keening Dvorak
  and the pulse, pulse, pulse of Glass

And I see more of God
  in the ever-changing lake
In the blue wink of the warning beacon
  amidst the invisible blackness of night
In the silver fire of early morning water
  dancing spots before my eyes
In the sun’s wide beam sweeping
  east to west – a heavenly searchlight

I even imagine a chord or two
  in the clatter and rumble
  of those eternal trains