December 28, 2009

Max’s Musings

maxBy Max Molleston

This year we will be sharing. Households, perhaps. Incomes, good times, misery. There has never been anything wrong or untoward about sharing. One of the newer methods in admonishing a child is to reinforce the act of sharing.

Sharing is an old practice in life. Farmers shared hard times and good time, however bad or pleasant that was, because they were and are cradled in the same circumstance – the land. More than that farmers related by family ties, helped each other in various ways, mostly in the field, haying, harvest and the like. Those not related, but living “next” to each other, also shared some labor tasks to be done and may now pitch in money toward planting or harvesting machinery they share. In my years in Davenport three religious groups, Edwards Church, The Unitarians, and Temple Emmanuel, shared a thanksgiving service and still do. These congregations shared the corner at 10th and Perry Streets, Davenport, until the middle of the last century.

The service was at Temple Emmanuel in 1996. It featured poetry. I was asked to participate and did so with a long, untitled poem. Over the years I have been “in and out” of the poem, revising it, hopeful to maintain the pace and intensity as I chopped off words and phrases. It was not easy. the poets’ trade is in words, and he or she agonizes when subtracting language.

A poet at the skill for years knows to shorten some of the longer work, changing a word here or there to make the message easier to absorb. For a cook the reduction would be fairly easy, but still a watchful process. Turn the heat to where it helps dissolve liquid in the creation and in time, a sauce is produced far more savory than the original pot contents. My poem I share with you this month is reduced by more than half, from 62 lines to 28-29 including the title.

The Prospects of Grace

Those of us alive are thankful,
Some for small things,
Some for life changes.
Thankful for Grace God delivers
into our empty searching souls,
unannounced and unsavored.

We are challenged about Grace.
Say we can’t have it unless.
Seek what we can’t see or feel,
or need. Love as discovery.
Surely love as a gift.

Thanks! A modest expression
mostly unexplored. Thanks as Prayer,
our earnestness reaching for words
of need. Testing our expressions about
teaming Prayer into a rush of Grace
for a person or group of unknown worth.

Sharing with god who we might be.
Thanks issued into the ether of Faith,
Understated, Underexplained, Underestimated
Presence. Thanks lengthens and deepens in
ways we do not understand, and could not.

If passage through life is a mystery
colored by opportunity or opaqueness,
then a Prayer is Grace and the outcome.
Grace comes at last to all of us,
and for that we can express our Thanks
for those about us to our Eternal God.

The wonderful advantage in words is they fit a number of challenges. They can be about many subjects – or one – our case in the poem you have just read. As a poem it attempts to explain (or discover) an aspect of living that most religions share. As a collection of words this poem could have been an essay or a short speech on the aspects of Grace, a primary mystery of organized religions or people anywhere or everywhere, seeking explanations on passages in life not apparent to them in the now.

So much for January, a good start on a long winter that asks all kinds of questions of us as it drags on. Join me here to pick up the joys of winter that February may bring.