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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Saturday, December 1, 2012

‘...after that he determined to only speak in parables.’

i reckon it’s about time I post some of my poetry
see what they look like on a different screen, in other’s eyes
get some things off my mind
you too can lay your burdens down here trusting
no one will ever be any the wiser


On Saturday the old priest waits alone for their sins to arrive
Though he hasn’t spoken directly to god in fifty years
That is, used his own words, not language approved by authorities
Not a soul has stepped inside his dark box for three years

An old women had come in place of her dying husband, an unbeliever
She begged mercy for his sins, wanting to be with him in heaven
I can’t forgive the sins of someone who doesn’t ask directly he told her
Does that go for god too she asked him back

The year before that a man brought his children, but not to confess
“When I was your age I had to go in there an spew my guts out to a priest”
The children gasped, cautiously peeking through the dark curtain
When the old priest whispered “bless you my children” they ran away screaming

The retired old curate was pressed back into service to fill in for priest-less parishes
Lack of vocations, declining membership, criminal abuse, all had left vacancies, holes
Lay people did all the work of running things, keeping the lights on, the money counted
He was just needed to perform certain gestures, without that what use was he?

In 1963 He fell in love with a Sulpician nun, Sister Gemma Calgani, and he knew joy
She loved him too and they made plans to leave holy orders and marry
At the last, Gemma could not forsake her vows, and so god took her back
The old priest too, but he hasn’t spoken to god since

Once in an emergency he was asked to shepherd the ‘teen youth group’
He suggested they kneel and say the rosary together, but all they would say was Oh My God!
But they knew well enough how to talk with those inhabiting unseen worlds
Knew more of the rituals and codes of communicating with the invisible than he did

So mostly now he ministers to the dying in hospital and nursing homes
He is as old as they are, older, so they trust him, more than their children
They sense that he too will soon cross over and be held accountable, face to face
The prayers for the dying are on pages 7 through 34, right in the front of his book

Page eight. “Prayer for a Happy Death.” he knows it by heart:

O my Creator and Father I beg of you the grace of final perseverance and a holy death despite the fact that I have greatly misused the life you have given me grant me the grace to live it well from this moment on and to end it in your holy love Let me die as the holy patriarchs died, leaving this valley of tears without sadness, to go and enjoy eternal rest in my true homeland let me die as did glorious St. Joseph accompanied by Jesus and Mary pronouncing those sweetest of names and in whose company I hope to enjoy for all eternity Let me die as did the Immaculate Virgin in the purest of love and with the desire of uniting myself to You the only object of my love Jesus having accepted death for me, grant me the grace of dying in an act of perfect love for You Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me now and at the hour of my death and protect me from the enemyAmen.

Sometimes during Mass he would unconsciously slip into Latin again, a dead language
Called so because only the Church still makes use of it
He assured the parish council that the words were still authorized, efficacious
They wrote the bishop again asking for a replacement

The new priest was from Goa, dark, young, full of exuberance and fresh ideas:
Growth, outreach to young people, becoming relevant, modernization, fresh paint
The old priest had seen it all before, said something similar in 1951, 1963, 1980,
The new priest spoke with a foreign accent, but no one mentioned it or seemed to mind

As he was packing up news came that Sister Gemma had died, came by e-mail
Her real name was Cindy, but no one knew her by that name but him and god
He cried great heaving sobs in front of the computer, none of the staff knew what to do
The new priest said something about sun beams and energy fields, hard to say really

His last service was officiating at something called an ‘ecumenical celebration!’
Folks from all kinds of churches coming together, “Unity in Diversity” the banner read
He would have to share the altar with a woman pastor, no Eucharist, just a ‘service’
The parish secretary asked if that would be a problem for him, almost hoping it would be

No, the old priest said, I have always loved women


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