Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Vigil

Tonight we must journey
like the Magi warned away
for seven months
now pilgrims to a holy church
far from the cathedral towers
of our town.

What sorry pass
things have come to be
spiritual refugees
to find a place
where silence spills intoxicating
cool like a waterfall
deep in a forest found
where the mind can rise
toward the One
who stooped so quietly to earth
now roams the world in Spirit form
and enters glad into the heart
that will obey His call
fleeing every sorry state
that man creates.

Tonight we must journey
winter lingers though spring is here
this Easter vigil
the rains wash
hiding all mountains
the wind chilled
and no flowers have peered
past the dead leaves of autumn's passing.
three in number
drive with wheels our winged hooves
we hasten
to a birth of marvelous kind
Herod may rage on
this new life he cannot kill
we journey to beyond a veil
though there is silence now
around the grave.

We gather outside
the darkness of the empty church
the smoke of sweet smelling wood
curling up into the night
the flames reflect on the faces
gathered round.
The priest begins the ancient prayers
the Easter candle white
as yet unmarked
by the wounds of the Crucified
and another year.

I reflect on the white-haired priest
his Dutch accent
no longer on African soil
the faces black
the distant evening
vibrating with the beat
of the native soul.
He gathered them together
as night would fall he taught them
in persona Christi.

Here in this town
though faces change
and country outlines differ
on this holy night
he holds high the candle
that will bless the new waters
and the two small children
their bed-time long past
awaiting their own passage
across the Red Sea.
And thus it happens
one candle lit becomes another
'till the glow of many
fills the church
and yes, He is risen
the guards left blinded
by a Light
always before unseen.

The bells begin to ring
to greet the Reality unscorned
the mystery guarded
like the tomb
now empty
the Apostles soon to realize
it's not just woman talk
the sermon says.
Swallowed by the greatness
of this night
the music rises and falters
echoes of all too human sentiments
the Church
that mysterious pauper made Queen
by Him who rises above
the dictatorship of death
cleanses all clean and shining
even this little mill town
rings forth with Easter joy.

We step into the night
our journey has not ended
the big white car
crosses the inevitable
mountain pass
to a lonely valley
the night now closing in
the fog and driving rain
accent the darkness
that flares up
so resistant and so deep.
It is a lonely road
we pass a semi
creeping down the far side
its red lights cut
the gloom
and only the yellow line

Our destination
so small
haunted by the ghosts of mining men
the lure of gold
the veins now spent
the one main street
with the Purple hotel
now painted green
filled to overflowing
with the music of two minstrels
the children of my companions
this sacred night
the evening now in full swing
with one small table empty
the barman kind
busily providing
yes, there is room in this inn
he sees that we are served
before he speeds away.

The raucous local youth
drum the table
in time with the beat
the pool players dance their way
gesturing with loud calls
as the beat quickens or slows
to catch the breath
or the ostrich-feathered sweater
of the waitress who weaves
amongst the patrons
and the drunks
who enter surly
but end up charmed into good humour
and youthful fun.

As the evening draws to an end
the unison clapping
the happy faces
delighting in the singers
sends this bar-room into flight
to soar around the hills
far above the trees
engulfed in clouds
all time has stopped
for the passengers
aboard the only Purple hotel
with wings
so gently rests
in God's mysterious bond
now woven with humanity.

I laugh with the sheer delight of it all
and think of another poet*
in another time
far across the sea
meditating on his country
one Easter eve
as I pick up the tread he wove
the fabric is one weave
in persona Christi.

The evening ends
the crowd
shaking their heads in wonder
at the Grace
that entered in
begin to depart.
Outside the rain has eased
the wee hours of the morning
Christ has returned triumphant from Hades
there the party has just begun
the encore to be played
in fifty days
when He ascends
returning to the Father.

In the quiet
the windshield wipers
the rhythm
headlights illuminating
the lingering snow banks
the stillness of the solitary road
it is the time
when Christ returns to His mother.
In the first light of dawn
He will be in the garden
where Magdalene searches
and I to bed
to dream so sweetly
in the blessings of
this Easter morn.

M. Tremblay 1989

*Karl Wojtyla "Easter Vigil VII 1966"


Anonymous said...

Nice poem MT.


cabbage ears said...

Your poem had Easter music. M.T.

first the birth..ahh, then
with glory, the rising.
stupendously celebrating
the death of winter.
understanding the cycle
hope is not visible
until this day, this moment
life filled with glory, again.