Thursday, November 22, 2012

For Anyone Who's Missing Someone Today

A poem for Thanksgiving

The Fall Almost Nobody Sees

Everybody's gone away.
They think there's nothing left to seee.
The garish colors' flashy show is over.
Now those of us who stay
hunker down in sweet silence,
blessed emptiness among

red-orange shadblow
purple-red blueberry
copper-brown beech
gold tamarack, a few
remaining pale yellow
popple leaves,
sedge and fern in shades
from beige to darkening red
to brown to almost black,
and all this in front of, below,
among blue-green spruce and fir
and white pine,

all of it under gray skies,
chill air, all of us waiting
in the somber dank and rain,
waiting here in quiet, chill
waiting for the snow.

David Budbill

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Change Change Change

In his speech last night, Barack Obama noted that "America has never been about what can be done for us but what can be done by us."

We live in a country where gun control is a dirty term, where drone strikes are being launched over Pakistan with impunity, where voters are forced to stand in line for hours and in some cases are made victims of malicious attempts to take away their right to vote.

It's our country. And over the next 4 years, maybe we're the change we need to believe in.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

One Day More

Hope you all get a chance to vote today.  And if you're interested in ridiculous banter and more of my silliness, I'll be tweeting at @popculturpriest a good part of the day (and night).  (Here's one I wrote last night: "Great job to all on a hard fought campaign. Now that it's all over, I hope we can all get along and vote for Barack Obama."  I know, I know, I am a font of wit.)

I remember four years ago very well.  After Obama won Times Square was a mob scene; taxis drove the streets honking, the cabbies waving.  It was like the whole country exhaled, finally. Like we'd all managed to enter the fairy tale we'd been promised.

I can't imagine it'll be like that today, no matter who wins.  I suspect instead it'll feel more like when you've spent months preparing for a huge test, and then it's over. You don't care what happens next, you don't care how you did, you're just glad it's over. Maybe we'll take a long collective nap.

There are worse things...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Making an Election

Is it me or did the readings this weekend seemed so apropos of the country right now? In the first reading and the Gospel, we've got someone standing up and telling us what we need to do to have eternal life.

And seriously, haven't we been getting an inbox full of that for the last, I don't know, 6 months?  Maybe more if we live in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania. Honestly, it's been one long barrage of people standing up and telling us this is what you have to do.  And I'm not just talking about the candidates, or the pundits.  If you have Facebook, tell me your newsfeed hasn't been crawling with political stuff.  I know mine has -- some of it on dark days from me!

And it's all sort of pseudo-apocalyptic: the fate of the country/future/free world depends on this election.    Some have even taken it right to the question of our salvation: the Archbishop of Green Bay, for instance, wrote his diocese a letter last week, saying that voting Democrat "could put your soul in jeopardy." Yikes!

The whole thing can make you feel like this kid:

In the readings, though, it's not about particular issues. Jesus does not connect salvation to any pet policies; he has no stated position on Wall Street, health care or the Democrats.  No, what's required of us? To love.  To be in relationship.  To be open to the needs of others.  To be vulnerable and willing to be surprised. And not just with regard to people, but God.  It's interesting, we're not told to fear God or worship God or reverence God but to love God.  That is, to be in relationship with him. To have him as a friend.

When I look at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and how people are responding to it and to each other, I see what Jesus is talking about. Not condemnations but power outlets.  Not doomsday oracles to heed but couches to lie on. Not an abandonment to one's fears, but a trust and a love so radical it allows a whole hospital to mobilize to save 20 babies in the neonatal ward. (If you don't know the story of the NYU NICU unit, and the staff that carried those very fragile children down 9 flights of dark stairs, their way guided by med students and volunteers with flashlights, look it up.  It's amazing.)

I know who I'm voting for, and I bet you do, too, but today I'm also reminded that there's a lot more important and more meaningful than that.