The Seventh of December

From a single point in heaven all sevenths
of December can bee seen; as if,
observing from his glass, the Lord can pinpoint
one or another, on the map of time
laid out before him in order, from left to right,
or right to left, depending; as though it matters
to him who made all time, and views it all
simultaneously.

There’s Ambrose in his cradle: a swarm of bees
alights, and buzzes round the child’s head;
a drop of honey left behind to tell
of sweetness yet to come. 

And there’s the blue
Pacific sky abuzz with aircraft pollinating
war.  The bluer ocean claims her dead,
entombs the Arizona, a tomb herself,
and marks this day with infamy.

                                                            And there
on Morningside Heights is me, amid the soaring
stone, assured that I’ll soar too when hands
are laid on me, to tell the Spirit where
to land.

          From heaven, to one and all the angels
bring their messages; the old angelic subject
line: “Fear not!”  To Ambrose’s dad, to sailors
as they drown.  When my peculiar angel
speaks, I look at him, and say, “Of course,
for what have I to fear?”  To which, replies
the angel, “Only your own foolishness,
which, on its own, may not amount to sin,
but that, of course, depends on you, you see.”

“Be dressed for action,” the angel said.  “And hear
the call of Christ to go where he directs
you.  Remember, your first pilgrimage
will be to go between the altar and
God’s people in the world.  Return again
as often as required, inscribing in your
heart the route from there to there.  When you
must speak be sure to speak of Jesus, who may
return at any time, sit down to eat.  And who
will serve the Lord?  Will you be up?  Will you
pay heed, and go, unlock the door, warm up
the basin, wash his feet?  Will you attend
his call, and still attend the call anon;
the timeless call you know,  ‘Come, labor on.’”?

Where did that angel go?  What words has he
for me, for you, all these years on?  He bids
us to the vineyard day by day.  And then
he whispers in my ear (and yours): give thanks,
give thanks.  All other gifts, it seems, will flow
from this thanksgiving theme, inscribed a bit
more deeply now than twenty years ago.

This seventh of December, then, from here
looks like a day of thanks for me, amid
a world that buzzes still with fear
and promise, too.  The bees have never swarmed
my head, and yet I pray that all the same
they’ve left a drop or two of honey here
for me and you.  Thanks be to God!


Preached by Fr. Sean Mullen
7 December 2016
On the twentieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood

Posted on December 12, 2016 .