Sunday, March 24, 2013

Resurrection By John Donne

Moist with one drop of Thy blood, my dry soul
Shall-though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly-be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard or foul,
And life by this death abled shall control
Death, whom Thy death slew ; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death bring misery,
If in thy life-book my name thou enroll.
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which it was;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sin's sleep and death soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last and everlasting day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Seven Stanzas at Easter - John Updike

 The Seven Stanzas at Easter - John Updike

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Deuce and A Half – Part IV

We are at Uncle Caskie’s and Daddy is drunk. Mom’s fears have materialized yet once again. Did she regret coming? Did she have a choice? Could she have stayed home with us? Or was our excitement at the prospect of visiting our cousins too much for her to resist? Did she wistfully think that this time would be different?

Daddy is drunk. Daddy is drunk and he is behind the wheel of the black Ford station wagon, Daddy is drunk behind the wheel at Uncle Caskie’s, I’m in the backseat, Mom and Jimmy are outside the car and Mom is telling me to get out of the car, but I can’t, I can’t get out of the car. Why not?

I can’t get out of the car because I won’t get out of the car. Why not? Because Dad has his right arm locked around my brother Billy and Billy can’t get away from him – Dad is going to drive home with Billy in the car and I’m afraid to leave Billy. Mom pleads with me to get out but I can’t, I won’t, I keep telling her, “I can’t leave Billy, I can’t leave Billy.”

Dad pulls the car away from Mom and off we go, down Uncle Caskie’s driveway and out onto the highways of Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. I remember us driving on the wrong side of the road, once, twice, three times…I’ve lost count.

Somehow we make it to Chevy Chase Circle at the Maryland – D.C. line, we turn north on Connecticut Avenue heading toward our home in Kensington. We are in the right lane, over on our left is a car with a family; kids in the back, husband driving, wife in the front passenger seat. I don’t know what the man does to offend my father, maybe he doesn’t move over when we are in the left lane, maybe he is driving too close to our car, maybe my Dad just glances over and doesn’t like what he sees. My Daddy is a mean drunk, the wrong glance, the wrong look, real or imagined, you never know what he will do.

Daddy tries to run the other car off the road into the median strip – it is terror – terror for me, terror for the wife and mother – I saw her face then, I see her face today – it’s been over fifty years and I still see that woman’s face looking toward us, looking at my Dad trying to run her family off the road. Her husband quickly slows down and we are soon far ahead of them…they are out of danger.

By God’s mercy we make it home, we should have wrecked, that day should have been another wreck in my Dad’s list of alcohol-induced accidents, it was a miracle we didn’t wreck – driving on the wrong side of the road throughout the trip home – attempting to wreck another car.

I don’t know when or how Mom and Jimmy got home – I don’t remember anything else about that day, maybe that’s a good thing.

I want to remind you that I loved my Dad and that our latter years were better years; we had some sweet times as he neared the end of his life, but what happened still happened. I think he tried to be a good grandfather to Billy’s children in later life, I don’t know about his interaction with Jim’s kids and he didn’t see mine often, but I think things were good between him and Bill’s family and that gives me comfort – I like the idea that he tried, there is something to be said for that. I know I’d like to be a better grandfather than I was a father when my daughters were little, and I sure would like to be a better father today than I was yesterday.