Friday, April 23, 2010

Cigar Jesus and the Treacherous Path

An extended conversation during my recent trip to Florida to visit my sons and friends there, more or less accurately described in the poem below, inspired this poem. 

Cigar Jesus and the Treacherous Path 
The theology wasn’t as thick as the smoke,
if indeed theology it was,
but it hung there in the damp Tampa air
like the sinuous, swirly whiff of heaven
hanging around after some peasant cripple
with a gnarly knee
meets a guy who tells him to roll up
his pallet and walk.
And he does.

No such miracles that evening,
only aged, weathered friendships
probing the wine-spawned
question before the Corona Council:
how many millions should an affluent
suburban parish, pay
for a temple to Jesus?
A matter of some contention, this . . .
(Though Jesus intruded but slightly and no one
said “affluent” even once.)
what with weekend and holy day crowd crush,
expanding worshipful,
no room for meetings, luncheons, classes,
this group and that, kids and teens,
and all the many in-betweens.
And let’s not discount the coffers we fill
for this cause and that.
Our generosity is legend.

But the gospel is clear, someone counters.
Only the poor and poorer yet matter.
Hunger and want trump
God the gilded,
God the regal and sumptuous,
always and everywhere.
No colossal monuments to the cushy
Christ of well-heeled worshipers,
no imposing edifices to caress the eyes
of comfortable pensioners, professionals
and their entitled spouses.
No visible certification of lucre’s luster
in the eyes of God.
With the cigars just nubs and the wine
all gone, theology receded.
Gave way to matters of moment:
How’s your grandson?
What’s Harry up to these days?
The market’s down fifty, for Christ sake!
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