He wore existence: a Poem for Simon Mein

(The Requiem Eucharist for The Rev. Canon Simon Mein was celebrated today at St. Andrew's School, Middletown, Delaware.  Between an extraordinary remembrance by the Headmaster Tad Roach and an equally fine homily by Bishop Wayne Wright, I read this poem. It was an honor to be asked.)

He Wore Existence: A Poem for Simon.

He wore existence
Like a scholar’s tweed coat,
Over the years
It became a bit frayed.
            As he became frail
It became a bit baggy.

No one would dare call him
And existentialist,
For existence was just a coat.

Still, he couldn't let go
The playful belief,
That by putting on existence
He was practicing incarnation.

He was unafraid of inconvenient truths,
And monstrous realities
And held as suspect
Mushy-headed religious idealism.

In response he conjured
Mental banquets
From the realities of life,
Just as he prepared
Delights for the palette
For his generous table.

No one and nothing was safe
From his  intellectual reach,
From his desire to cook up
A new theological dish
Worthy of both
Belief and grace.

He did not live in the land
Of what if,
But in the real world
Of “there you are.”

He wrestled with
night messengers,
Was wounded,
And prevailed.
He expected us to
Do so as well.

So it is not surprising
That just moments ago
And quite suddenly
he threw off existence
Hung his coat on entropy's peg,
And left us to fend for ourselves.

The good realist teaches us
to prepare our own meals
and make our own theological bed,
And steps away,

And if we are irritated and angry
            That he did so
Perhaps we will remember:
He did not believe in existence,
            but in living,
Not in entropy alone,
            but in delight.

Mark Harris, February 23rd, 2012


Jeff Ross said...

Beautiful words for a beautiful man.

Elizabeth+ said...

The images you use to describe Simon's way of living are so rich and evocative of the man I respected and loved. Thank you! Hearing you read this poem at Simon's funeral was a great gift.

Holly Wright said...

Mark, Wayne told me you wrote a beautiful poem for Simon referring to his tweed coat. I said, "That sounds like a tearjerker." Thank you for posting it for those of us who couldn't attend the service. Also loved seeing your mother's haunting and beautiful images .

JeanneKirby said...

Poetmark strikes a chord of love and and caring for a wonderful loving and caring man. Well done!

Lois Keen said...

I can see Simon before me clear as day when I read this poem, Mark. Well done, thou good and faithful friend.

Anonymous said...

my name is stuart edwards and Simon taught me (and cared for me - and sent me on to University) at Kelham (1963-70). I have been grateful for him in 40 years as a priest - and yes I have tried always to take his understanding of (especially) the Synoptic gospels with me into the pulpit. I wish I had thought to google him before his death - his blogs sounjd just like the Kelham days! Thank God for his life. Condolences to his family and friends. And a prayer that he may rest in peace.