Shape and Substance

meditations on faith and church

Month: March, 2020

Passing Things

A generation goes, a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 
Ecclesiastes 1:4
The sun rises against its will
would choose the comfortable quilt of darkness
over ineluctable morning.
The earth turns.
Obvious things, mentioned for
the obviousness of things, the tiresome rote
of days. Yet beneath, something different.
Something new.
Swelling, pulsing, throbbing like
unsatisfied longing, hangover from a
future held politely to the lips 
but not drunk.
Something is passing away—
disease, an order, a way of life, a dream—
We will all survive this, we are told.
Some, not all. 
José Ameal survived
the Spanish Flu. Nineteen eighteen. He was four.
From his bed he peeked through drawn curtains
looked outside
to watch the souls passing by—
“so many dead”— on the streets of Luarca
in north Spain. Did he wonder if his
turn would come?
He lived to be imprisoned
by Franco, bury his wife in ’fifty-one,
marry another and live fifty
more good years.
Something is passing away.
We peek through drawn curtains at the procession
of souls. We wonder if today our
turn will come.
Tomorrow the sun will rise
reluctant, as though choosing its darkling quilt
over inevitable morning.
The earth turns.

Love in the Time of Corona

with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Raise the yellow flag that marks disease.
This lonely ship will not soon come to rest
in port of comforting communion, or cease
to sail. We berth on isolation’s breast
and pray for peace, though at a frightening cost
we’d have been wiser not to pay. The rest
you know. Too many years like waves have tossed
us to and fro to break now with the lie:
“’Tis only ‘til we’re finally across
this yawning chasm, this darkening divide
that makes us a society of strangers,
closeted ‘til viruses subside….” 
And then? Shall we then brave the dangers
that drift malevolent, like random microbes
or evil humors, insults, sudden angers,
in the daily current? ‘Twill not be so.
This boat’s no recent shelter. Here’s the tragedy:
we booked our passage on it long ago.
Social distance is the commended remedy
for illnesses that take their mortal toll.
But social distance is also the malady
that keeps the body well but kills the soul.