Monday, October 05, 2009

A weekend with Saints...

From fellow religionist Rosalynde Welch of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Mormons follow no liturgical calendar in our worship services. We celebrate Christmas and Easter with appropriate hymns, sermons and scriptures, but the rhythm and mood of our meetings stay mostly the same year-round. So General Conference is the closest we get to a liturgical feast, a high point in our spiritual landscape and a time of renewal and rededication. It’s characteristically Mormon––and I say this with the greatest possible affection––that a pinnacle of our spiritual lives has such a prosaic name. But General Conference, arriving as it does together with the natural beauty of every autumn and spring, is indeed a beloved event for many Mormons. Many of us have developed family traditions that envelope the proceedings in comforting ritual––special foods, favorite activities, the simple pleasures of being together (emphasis mine––see here for full article).

A blessing of such a two-day Sabbath is that one wakes to a new week to find there are prophets everywhere! Hairshirt-clad, chirping like locusts, but sweet as honey. Here's some scripture (demanding stuff!) from one of my very favorites, Seamus Heaney:

From Death of a Naturalist

Mid-term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At ten o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying––
He had always taken funerals in his stride––
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple.
He lay in a four-foot box, as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

From Glanmore Revisited

VII. The Skylight

You were the one for skylights. I opposed
Cutting into the seasoned tongue-and-groove
Of pitch pine. I liked it low and closed,
Its claustrophobic, nest-up-in-the-roof
Effect. I liked the snuff-dry feeling,
The perfect, trunk-lid fit of the old ceiling.
Under there, it was all hutch and hatch.
The blue slates kept the heat like midnight thatch.

But when the slates came off, extravagant
Sky entered and held surprise wide open.
For days I felt like an inhabitant
Of that house where the man sick of the palsy
Was lowered through the roof, had his sins forgiven,
Was healed, took up his bed and walked away.

From Squarings


And lightening? One meaning of that
Beyond the usual sense of alleviation
Illumination, and so on, is this:

A phenomenal instant when the spirit flares
With pure exhilaration before death––
The good thief in us harking to the promise!

So paint him on Christ's right hand, on a promontory
Scanning empty space, so body-racked he seems
Untranslatable into the bliss

Ached for at the moon-rim of his forehead,
By nail-craters on the dark side of his brain:
This day, thou shalt be with Me in paradise.


Ed said...

I loved the poetry, I'll have to read the article later. I enjoyed all of conference that I saw. I especially enjoyed Elder Holland. Whew, he is a powerful speaker!


Joseph said...

"Up there it was all hutch and hatch"

I do like that Heaney tastes his words.