By Sharon Moon

Based on: “Goodbye, New York” by Deborah Garrison, from The Second Child. © Random House.

Goodbye, Anglican Home

(a song from the wrong side of the Atlantic)

 

you were home of Shakespeare and Chaucer
the rubrics well learned, hymns sung by a cantor

you were the ancient graves near the Thames
the lofty Cathedral where little boys sang

Tallis, Tavener, Durufl, Purcell
nearby Whitehall, Trafalgar, and Ludgate Hill

messages from the ABC I sometimes read
at nights before I went to bed

the Sunday services, those at Christmas Eve
the processions with Princes and Queens in their grief

you were the tiny brass crucifix
and the smell of incense, in thurible mixed

you were the balcony with pipes of all sizes
liturgy spoken in well cadenced phrases

post-wedding pictures, baptismal cries
fragrant altar flowers, and smiling eyes

you were the coffee, the tea, and the cakes
the wooden seats that made young hips ache

an awkward hug at the passing of the peace
the momentary innocence of confessional release

a man for all seasons standing in his time
preparations, a prayer book, both bread and wine

always the questions, not demanding an answer
the poetry of psalms, the liturgical dancer

the raising of prayers for those hurt, lost and alone
for a friend in need, or on their way home

the candles extinguished as each service ends
a moment of silent kneeling with matters to mend

my place of second birth and spiritual door–
are you the dream we have lived before?

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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November 2017
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Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory

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