Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pastoral note from a poem

What to say to someone in the face of tragedy and death, like the death of a child, a spouse, a companion, terminal illness, etc? The day I know what to say and I say it easily is the day I quit ministering. It is important to be a non-anxious minister of presence, not a professional running the checklist of the stages of grief.

At a conference last evening, the first of our annual diaconal retreat, we read a Manley Hopkins poem, That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection:

In a flash, at a trumpet clash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchood,
immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond

My only marginal note to this poem is "Shine on You Crazy Diamond- Sid Barret, Pink Floyd." Undoubtedly, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Sid Barret are crazy diamonds- still shining somewhere. If they ever do a Sid Barret bio-pic Alan Arkin can play Sid in his later years.

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