National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  June 20, 2003


Banners Hanging From A Church Clerestory

Yes, they are the simplest of fabrics,
The sheerest we could find.

They baffle the light so that is does not
“Flame out, like shining from shook foil,”
But turns flame to gentle glow instead.

But are they more?

Gossamer wings
Wafting us to realms above?
Inverted sails
Of a spiritual barque that havens us on roiling seas?
Diaphanous clouds
That hover protectively over a pilgrim people?
Wordless pennants
Pointing to the Table of bounty below?

Maybe yes. And maybe more.

--Fr. William A. Richard
Rockwall, Texas

A labyrinth in Glendalough, Ireland
-- Pat Janus

The Labyrinth

How strange
at the beginning
to shed the day
and come so close
to the center
only to turn away
and return
to the outer edge
then weave again
the path in close
but not quite there
until a final turn
bring you to
the center
to learn
how long you must stay.
There is only one path
It is the path there
It is the path away.

--Pat Janus
Rochester, N.Y.


Embedded Saint in Baghdad

In the wake of ruin --
dregs our decapitating missiles wrought,
a saint emerged sudden.
Employed in the madhouse
and on spin unschooled,
once after a Brokaw intro,
she slipped across our screens.

A simple psych nurse
at the slaughter’s outset,
she donned her patients’ garb
when marauders in ant-like fury
breached the asylum’s doors --
loosing the violent,
leaving but hinges behind.

As the unholy wave spilled in,
its victims’ mute wails
fell stark, abbreviated
like sprinkles at dawn:
Till a bodhisattva undiscovered --
with intruders still at-large,
ministered to the doomed and damaged.

Some say sainthood’s
just a sturdy will abiding;
others happenstance,
when conscience and
conditions collide.
It only matters some
persist without reason --
both in and out of season.

--Jay Allain
Hyannis, Mass.

A Life Not My Own

In rare moments
when I am home to myself,
my heart is still,
my pulse a psalm
I know obscurely
I receive my life
from a power beyond me,
live by a life not my own.

This morsel of life
its ephemeral beauty
its searing sorrow
is on loan,
marginal to a greater agency
that always, all ways
engages the darkness,
brings life from death.

My own gratuitousness
itself is gift,
liberating me
to live in this moment,
to be at peace in a world
that, like me, is passing away,
to love it fiercely,
to let it go.

--Bonnie Thurston
Wheeling, W.Va.


National Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2003

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