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Christmas Poem – On Not Going to Church

ON NOT GOING TO CHURCH

Even though Jesus Prayer,
Still descends to my depths,
I stopped going to church this year.
Bus schedules, sleeping late, the homophobia
Gnaw at my belief.
The stories don’t make sense any more,
A childish belief in magical protection of a universe
That falls apart as we age into Parkinson’s, dementia or chronic pain.
Can I find Christ again in the dead leaves of autumn?

I want to know their experience of God of suffering:
The prayers of Lakota and Jew, Hindu and Muslim,
Persecuted Christians—
Most of all the prayers of gay and transgendered people.
Wet with tears, majestic, palpably true.
Faith without suffering isn’t faith.
Still, I miss the pageantry, the great arc of the Church Year,
Now Advent, the green and red foliage, the comfort as the light disappears,
The holy repetition of it all–
The 300- year history of Britons singing the same hymns
As Hitler’s bombs fell,
And when Hamlet first walked the Elizabethan stage.
But now, throughout Europe, few attend Church,
Less than 10% in England and Ireland.

Still to appear after a year’s absence to see the candles,
Smell the spices and sing those comforting carols seems rude.
I used to look at those who came to church only for Christmas and Easter
As near-pagans, only now to find myself at last,
One of them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

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