I heard a homily on the Feast of Saint Joseph that got me thinking about this poem. Or rather, it gave a form to a poem that had been rolling around in my head since the prodigal son was in the gospel some weeks before. It gave it form, and I am just posting it here because I wrote the whole thing in ten minute breaks during Korean class and half of a lunch break. Hope you enjoy it!
The Feast of Saint Joseph
Come Home, My Son, Come Home!
I hear the accusing call, from way out here
In the wilderness, convicting me of my crime
Wallowing with my swine
You are hungry, why delay?
The voice stirs my conscience, reminds me of the way
I lived on borrowed coin
You are worth far more than this. Come join
Your family. I will meet you in the middle.
I am worth so little
When will you come home?
I will go.
My Son is coming home! Prepare the ring!
I accept that I dare not see your face
I confess my sin and take the lowest place.
I deserve your ire
Child, come up higher!
I am not even worthy of serving you for hire
You are a grubby little child, and you need a bath.
You are not so grandly evil as all that, no matter what you did.
Hurry home and I will meet you on the path
With a basin and a towel
Lord, you shall never wash my feet!
I am not so presumptuous, not by half!
I have saved for you the fatted calf!
See how eagerly I eat my muddy husks
Left over from the pigs?
When I have prepared for you unblemished Lamb?
They cut me with their tusks,
And I chew their dirty twigs.
That’s the best that I deserve.
Of all the nerve! Come in the house.
Lowest of the low, the grimiest louse
That ever infested the halls of the just,
Ashes and dust.
Dust and my breath! Come inside!
Lord, be sane! Have a mind for your dignity
I know my place and I know my humility.
Although I am fallen, crippled, destined for mean use,
I still have pride enough to know Dominum, Non Sum Dignus!
At least one of us is still aware of your great Majesty!
And so you dare this senseless travesty?
You make me laugh! I know what you have earned.
None knows better your true worth,
And where it comes from. None on earth.
You think you have returned?
Amen I say, you still know not how far
Away from peace and joy and home you are.
You still have never learned
Of love. But never fear.
I am here.
Midway on my Lenten journey back
On the Feast of Saint Joseph, they offered me chocolate ice cream.
Let down from the sky upon a sheet
Held by the four corners, and laid it at my feet.
I turned it down, clung grimly to my lack
Of worthiness until an angel came
And scolded me in my dream
“You’re wound too tight, you silly dupe!
Show some humility and have a scoop!
Lent is not about you.
Precious blood has bought for you this chance.
Salvation is a dance.”
And so I bowed my head and ate
Humble-pie-flavored ice cream; And it tasted great!