Tuesday, October 14, 2008

tis a gift to be simple

"Tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be..." I learned this song for the piano today, and now Tis stuck in my head. Ach.

I read a poem last night by Jill Alexander Essbaum, called Apologia. It appears in the current issue of Image journal - an excerpt:

Darkness, I have done dread deeds in,
Hearkening to apocalyptic heathen,
Even as I cocked my lips to yours. And I have slept
On floors. And I have crept along on all fours.
And, More. I have lived briskly in nice houses.
I have swigged whiskey in icehouses.

I have been June, July and August.
I have been riotous when I felt like I must
Or I could be. And I've hung on your tree like a ripe fig
Desiring to be plucked. And I've flung my body to your bed
Like a white bride pining to be rubbed up against.
Like a suckling child hungry in a viper's den...

It's really a worthwhile poem. Not to everyone's taste, of course, and in the end it's about guilt and about living a life worthy of repentence; and thereby, a live worth living, and faith and forgiveness. It opens with an epigram of St. Augustine: "However innocent your life may have been, no Christian ought to venture to die in any other state than that of the penitent."

Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. Humbleness and gratitude don't come without some knowledge of your misdeeds and failings. And I'm not sure you can really love without both of these. Though some days it's a real trick to feel your gratitude, feel it with enough depth that your love too has the depth you desire -- love for your fellows, or your family, or someone else. The love of someone who forgives you for being a miserable jackass, for example. As some have forgiven me and as I must forgive others.

And here's my spouse, up at 2am. Right on time.


Anonymous said...

I'm home.
Let's see if I can remember what I wanted to comment on....
1. Next time, don't have a yard sale, just take your stuff to the Goodwill and write it off on your taxes.
Much simpler.
2. I bet your sermon was much better than you give yourself credit for. If it suffered at all I'm betting that it was from exhaustion. You are cramming to much in.
3. Interesting poem.
4. Go to bed. Get some sleep.

Neil Ellis Orts said...

If you liked that poem, you might like some of Jill Alexander Essbaum's collections of poetry. They're all worthwhile and easily found on places like Amazon (although Necropolis is had cheapest at Tower.com).

As the publisher of Necropolis, I'm required to point this out. Sorry for hijacking your blog for shameless promotion. But what else is the internet for?


Jennifer S. said...

Thanks Neil. I'll probably check it out!