as it was in the beginning.

William H. Johnson, Harlem Street with Churchca. 1939-1940
As a kid, I wanted to be
a priest. I knew the costume,
had seen men add layer

upon layer of holiness.
I knew the sacristy,
the drawers of clothing

& cabinets of gold & 
wine. A bell struck.
All rose. He walked.

All waited on him.
He had it all.
The title, the pulpit.

I never imagined myself
at fifty, feeling young,
feeling uncertain, feeling

like anything less than
a leader, a voice behind
a screen offering forgiveness.

Holiness, I hope, is
everywhere. Sin, I've learned,
is nothing to be

ashamed of unless it's
cowardice. Enter the space.
Listen. Speak. 


12 responses to “as it was in the beginning.”

  1. Powerful ending. I like how we both drew from our Cathlic upbringing. Yours different as I never dream of being a priest! Though I don’t practice in this community now, I do find my ritual reflections help ground me. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. As someone from a different ecclesial background, but someone who pursued/had a career in Christian ministry for over a decade (in the past now), your looking back on your youthful perspective was especially evocative. Poetry is a great avenue for this and your words, chosen carefully, take us through time, giving us glimpses of your process.

    I resonated, at 42, with the feeling of surprise almost at feeling young and also the age I am now! You said it well.

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    • Thanks, Tim, for your kind words. I’ve been really blown away by Christian Wiman & Spencer Reece, both of whom write poetry centered in a contemplative & complex personal faith

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  3. Your poem reminds us of the fact of realizing that adults are uncertain and not what we thought of them. Yet you retain the love of holiness and your statement that cowardice the biggest sin is intriguing.

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  4. Wow. What struck me so deeply about your poem is the way it moves from power and admiration to a call for openness and humility. And I agree with the other commenters. Despite the way the tone changes, you bring an appreciation, a reverence for the sacred. Beatiful.

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