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A Poem of Remembrance

September 9, 2010

This poem was passed on to me by my fellow clergy in the Society of Catholic priests and I pass it on to you as we remember that horrific day on September 11, 9 years ago.

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness
quietly. The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.

It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in
September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Tobias Haller BSG
March 8, 2008

One Comment leave one →
  1. Allison Marcus permalink
    September 9, 2010 6:03 pm

    Remembering is so very important to our “human-ness”. Remembering the good times in our lives… birthdays, weddings, achievements and other celebrations of great joy… bind us in happiness and pride. Remembering the tragic and horrific times… death of loved ones, and tragedies caused by accidents, weather extremes, fire, negligence, acts of war, or violence of any kind… can bring us even closer. Watching members of my family and others who are part of my “village” who are growing older and for whom remembering is becoming such a precious commodity reminds me daily how important it is to remember no matter how painful the memories may be. Remembering can be as simple as asking questions of and listening to your parents and grandparents and by sharing with young people the answers to the questions they have yet to ask.

    Thanks Fr. Ryan for helping us remember.

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