Present Blessings Just In Time

(Well, sometimes the future of Anglicanism is less important that present blessings. So I wrote a poem to remember the fact of blessings at the dark time of the year.)

Second row chancel;
Washington Cathedral,
very still,
the voices of the guides
like sparrows in the rafters.

Jesus on the cross up high,
above the rood screen
presiding over
my sin and God’s plumb line both.

I am not lost,
I wait in expectation dreaming,
blessed in a time of anxiety,
at peace, making the crooked straight,
just in time.

Just in time
for the feast that defines us,
a feast of incarnation,
of God not absent
or merely righteous
but visceral, loving,
welcoming, freeing,
just in time.

There are angry people
in this obscenity of a year
who believe that we should stop
saying “Happy Holidays”
and start saying
“Merry Christmas,”
as if that were less secular.

How come they don’t want to stop
the President saying, “Victory”
and get him to start saying “peace”?
But we know:
it makes good press.

I say, “May Christ’s presence
be a blessing to you.”
Of course that’s a little long.
So how about just,
“present blessing.”

Present blessing is more
than merriment,
more than happiness:

Present blessing is being covered,
embraced, loved,
just in time.

May we be presently blessed,
great and small alike,
unreasonable sinners and former dictators,
small town con artists,
universal soldiers, virgins, reprobates,
children and old farts,
now and in the hour of our deaths.

Let the Bishop Pittsburgh be presently blessed
together with the Pittsburgh
street walker
warming her hands on a coffee cup
from Dunkin Donuts;
perhaps her warm hands
can warm his.

Let the Presiding Bishop be presently blessed,
staying calm
in the midst of indigestible angers,
blessed by
the homeless guy I passed
on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington,
who is also presently blessed
although not by me, ( God forgive me).
I practiced not being the good Samaritan,
and was good at it.

And presently blessed be the Archbishop of Nigeria,
who annoys me very much,
and blessed be the sixty-seven year old woman
who advertised in an upscale magazine
for one good year of sex
With a man she liked.
May they meet in heaven and laugh to realize
that she holds the keys to the kingdom.

And blessed be those, who,
like my mother,
have learned to be brave,
and live alone,
and like it more than not,

and presently blessed be
those who do not die at the right time,
Patty who died before her time,
of cancer of the breast,
and the two thousand whose names
we wrote on paper stars,
who died in fields of rubble, not flowers,
in war unimaginable except in the convulsion
of deranged minds,

and most particularly blessed be
the burn out clergy of the ‘60’s,
whose wonderful talents
were wounded by a world hell bent
on capturing the truth of the Tupperware ‘50’s,
in spite of such distractions
as the war, and racism and
the friggin’ space race,

And blessed be their lovers
who took other lovers,
who wound up in coastal villages
in case it was necessary to become
boat people and
get the hell out of here,
just in time.

And blessed be
the crazy Egyptian
who came to America illegally,
was illegally beaten,
and returned home
with a crushed head
and a warn out heart,
who calls me incessantly,

And blessed be the pot heads
who, like my brother,
grew up
and still think that justice
is a dream worth having,
who stand on high ground,

and blessed most presently
the queer woman
whose call to be like Jesus
remained undefiled
by repeated abuse
by three, count them, three
major denominations,
one power,
and several principalities,

and blessed be the homosexual
in every one of us
screaming to get out
if only we could
live into a world
where love of like
is as valued as
love of opposites,

and presently blessed
be those strange long term loves
whose challenge is to keep on
living as presently as possible
whose tenure is not dependent
on same or opposite of any sort,

And blessed be the broken hearted,
hammered down,
New Orleans ninth ward
drowned rats,
smashed on the anvil
of no luck at all,
whose other name is entropy and ooze,
who will get home,
just in time.

And most particularly blessed
be every last form of goodness
that still manages to arise
out of the nothing that is America:

And blessed Allen Ginsberg was right,
the postscript to the howl
is the present blessing,
where everything and everyone is holy;
our Captain America,
ol’ weird Allen
we salute you.

And blessed are all those
who find their shelter in
God as present blessing,
whose coming we await now,
in Advent, At Christmas,
and forever,
just in time.

It is still.
The Cathedral it is quiet,
and snow is falling,
just in time.


  1. Mark, your poetry, and generosity of spirit, is a blessing. Thank you for this beautiful piece.

  2. Mark,

    These are stark, beautiful and truthful words that move my heart as we move through these dark season (of the year, liturgically, and in our church).

  3. Wonderful, Mark. May you be presently blessed, too. Happy Holidays! :-D

    [If you can, everybody, see The Colbert Report, for 12/15, on Comedy Central. Colbert puts the coup de grace in the whole "War on Christmas" humbuggery. LOL!]


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