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The Message

When Mary
sitting in her mother’s house first heard
a bliss of music blooming in the fig tree near
the door
she turned to face the door and saw
a gleam as from a sword
a fire like a sun
a face unlike the faces of the world.
She heard
the winged invader speaking words
from One elsewhere.
She raised her hand to push away the sounds
but seized them in her heart.
The flower bearer
laid his lilies at her feet
in a falling down of stars.

-- Georgia Beyard
Timonium, Md.

Murnane Halfway House

We haven’t met
you nor your child yet
we know why you are here
in this cramped room
with its long bank of windows
flooding in brilliant morning light
and leaking in damp Willamette nights
you are balanced
between heaven and hell
one flight up from the street dealers
across from the tattoo parlor
will new paint, new floor, new drapes
and our hopes be enough?
will a basket of books, soap and towels
be enough?

we pray for you
for all of us
on the journey
balanced on slivers of faith

-- Charles Varani
Eugene, Ore.

Following Directions

In all the mysteries
Surrounding life
On this planet
Our reluctance
To ask directions
When we lose our way
Is among the
Most confusing

And it is not just
The male of the species
Who tries to fake it
By pretending all along
That the destination
Is just around
The corner

Even when trying to find
A mall or an arena
Where we want to be
We tough it out
And if we do find our way
It is usually unintentionally
And not by design

But to gamble
With directions
To the Kingdom
Or to take wrong turns
Because we won’t ask
Is at best
And at the least

For the Master’s road
Is relatively simple
Though never easy
And since it means
Traveling with One
Who is the Way
We never arrive
By accident

-- Fr. Michael J. Kennedy
Cedar Creek, Minn.

The Uninvited Guest

Like an uninvited guest he came
from cold February streets,
disturbing the comfortable gathering.

Elegantly dressed worshipers sang and prayed
amid pure white candles and incense
until this unknown intruder arrived.

He prayed to their God --
several words behind,
crossing himself with the wrong hand.
He brought with him the reading for the day --
with dirty hands and dirtier jeans,
his life read from the prophet Amos:
“They trample the heads of the weak into
the dust of the earth,
and force the lowly
out of the way.”

They eased themselves away
with a sideward glance,
filling any space between them;
to avoid his odor and his eyes.

No stares or avoidance could protect God’s chosen people.
Who is this worshiper from the streets?

Finally, he left,
slipping into the darkness of the streets,
away from the darkness of their hearts.

-- Sr. Judy Morris, OP
St. Catharine, Ky.

National Catholic Reporter, July 2, 1999