Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 52, whose chosen verses today form an exquisite prayer – one that can be held like a diamond to the Light:

I, like a green olive tree
    in the house of God,
Trust in the mercy of God
    forever and ever.
I will thank you always for what you have done,
    and proclaim the goodness of your name
    before your faithful ones.

Psalm 52: 10-11

It is ironic that these tenderly beautiful verses close one of the most virulent curses of the Psalms! It’s better to let them stand alone for today’s prayer. Like that, they perfectly complement Paul’s gorgeous blessing poured over the Colossians in our first reading:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.

Colossians 1:2-5

As this first day of September breaks over us, it is a good day to give thanks within these scriptural blessings:

  • for courage given and hope sustained
  • for storms weathered and favors received
  • for the resilience of new promises 
  • and the polished incandescence of the long-kept vow
  • for fields turned over toward a season of rest
  • for sweaters shaken out and ready to warm
  • for the smell of a sharpened pencil, the endless possibilities of a fresh notebook, 
  • and a new box of crayons ( to follow in a later post. I mistakenly send a fragment earlier today. I hope it wasn’t a distraction to you.)

Poetry: First Day of School – by Howard Nemerov (February 29, 1920 – July 5, 1991), an American poet. He was twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, from 1963 to 1964 and again from 1988 to 1990. For The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977), he won the National Book Award for Poetry,Pulitzer Prize for Poetry,and Bollingen Prize.

I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,

And when I leave him at the first-grade door

He cries a little but is brave; he does

Let go. My selfish tears remind me how

I cried before that door a life ago.

I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together

What every child also endures alone:

Learning the alphabet, the integers,

Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff

So arbitrary, so peremptory,

That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream

The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down

Before the dreaming of a little boy.

That dream got him such hatred of his brothers

As cost the greater part of life to mend,

And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,

And grind the children who must mind the thought.

It may be those two grindings are but one,

As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,

As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,

As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free

By law or by poetic phantasy.

But may they be. My child has disappeared

Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live

To see his coming forth, a life away,

I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds

Among his teachers have a care of him

More than his father could. How that will look

I do not know, I do not need to know.

Even our tears belong to ritual.

But may great kindness come of it in the end.


Music: September Morn – instrumental version of Neil Diamond’s song. The words don’t exactly work for our prayer, but the melody does 🙂

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