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Thursday 30 June 2011

What the parish priest told the altar boy.

At diverse times, though all before the age of ten,
our priest (ex-monk) explained to me
that temporal happiness can come in only one
of three designs:-
                          that it can be the darkness of closed eyes,
                          the shape of praying hands
                          or it is cruciform.
You have to find, he said, the shape for you.
The shape that God intends for you.
I was confused.

You must not drink before communion, he said.
(This in the vestry early in the morning.)
God sees you drinking tea - and when you drink
what do you also do?
I have a biscuit with it, I observed.
He almost had the vapours there and then.
You break your fast, he said,
You excommunicate yourself.
You break away from God. That is
the meaning of your word: breakfast!
Again, I was confused.

After a long illness he said that he would take me
to a place he knew in Switzerland.
We would stay together in this place
until my health returned.
Alas, my parents would not let me go.
That, too, I found confusing.
It was years before I understood.

Non-conformists are non-believers in disguise
I heard one day. They'll meet hell fire.
Officiating at the war memorial one day,
he walked away when Methodists arrived.

The Bible was a banned book in his view.
You should not read it David, he explained,
you are not trained. It's not a book
for people. The priest will tell them what it says.

This is a late response to Jingle Poetry's prompt to write on Saints, Monks or Meditation.



Rachel Green said...

Very powerful piece, Dave. Impressive.
To be as singleminded as that priest is an art in itself.

Ricky Guanlao said...

Very interesting.

Isabel Doyle said...

I think religion is a fine thing but I think love is also important.

Jenny Woolf said...

Dave, you do write good poems. This is terrific .

Jingle said...

cool thoughts...

I used to read it, love the wisdom in it..

it is a stirring topic..
a job well done.

jabblog said...

Your parents were very astute!

Anonymous said...

we allow the most extraordinary power to be wielded by elites. uniforms, ceremony and ritual combinations to examine closely I think.


He almost had the vapours there and then.

thought provoking indeed


Anonymous said...

Very good post - I too have met priests like this one!

Helen said...

That all encompassing power is frightening and unsettling - and I am not even a child.

Rallentanda said...

Wow ...rather you than me. Our nuns in retrospect seemed positively enlightened compared to your reactionary old priest:)

SG said...

If what your priest said about the three designs of temporal happiness really holds, I am wondering which is the one for me.

Cad said...

Heaven help us!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A brilliant write and it is good that your parents understood that the trip was not a good idea.

Anna :o]

Windsmoke. said...

I'm a non conformist and a non believer in religion so it looks like i'll burn in hell fire. After all said and done fantastic poem :-).

Dave King said...

Thanks, yes, I have never met anyone else who even came near.

Welcome to you. Thanks for commenting. Much appreciated.

No disagreements there! Thanks for the thought.

That is rally great to know. Thanks. It is one I was not sure about.

Yes, almost before their time. It was not a subject we knew or thought about back then.

hull of a city
Hi, and a warm welcome to you. Thanks for the comment. I fully endorse your opening paragraph.

Either you have lived a much more sheltered life than I or the reverse! I'm not sure which, but I find the thought fascinating. Thanks for it.

Yes, it was completely overwhelming for a while. More so than my school teachers, I think.

My wife was taught by nuns. I think she'd say the same. Thanks.

A wonder I have often had!

According to what I was told back then, it will! Thanks very much for commenting, it was good to have your visit.

Much thanks for the first bit, and absolutely to the second!

You and I together, then. Even in my most religious phase I was an out-and-out heretic. Now I am with Wallace Stevens in believing that poetry has taken over from religion. The theology books that once stocked my shelves have gradually given way to poetry.