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I have not gotten tons of positive feedback on Everything2 for my poetry but my Unitarian minister likes my poetry: he used Say yes in a sermon along with Robert Frost, Rumi and Mary Oliver on Sunday. Happy sigh. Last week someone said, "Isn't it nice that he uses things from the congregation to make people feel good. That's so sensitive." I'm trying to brain dump that comment. Still, it felt good. Most comments I get on E2 are along the lines of "I really like your medical writing." and occasionally include "stop posting your horrible poetry." Too bad, I'm getting encouragement elsewhere.

The sermon was part of his Christmas series: he does 4 sermons leading up to Christmas, on the themes of Faith, Hope, Love and Joy. My poem was in the Love sermon. He used Rumi's "The Guest House", which is currently on my home node. He used Mary Oliver's "The Journey" and a Frost poem that I hadn't heard before: "A Leaf Treader". I bought myself a used Complete Robert Frost a few months ago. Guess I'll have to find time to read it.

Along with the sermons come four banners: a new one up on the wall each week. And four candles, a new one lit each week by one of the junior high students. My daughter, The Introverted Thinker, lit the candle for the 11:15 service. I'm not sure if the kids get more excited as Christmas approaches or the adults. Our minister gave a lovely sermon once about how Santa is for the children and the Christ child is for the adults. Santa knows what you truly want for Christmas and knows you have tried to be good, even if you've failed. The Christ child is the miraculous future that will be sacrificed. So the adults act out Santa for the children and the children do the pageant for the adults: a beautiful symmetry and a gift from each to the other. I like thinking of the perfection of the Santa fantasy: someone who knows the deepest wish of your heart. Our service also had a menorah and two people singing the service for the third day of Hanukkah: Unitarian, remember? We have candles in the back of the church now that people can light for whatever they want. I love the respect paid to diverse faiths and ideas.

We are building a new sanctuary. It will be done in January. The old sanctuary is only ten years old but when everyone comes to church, we don't even fit into two services. I'm quite erratic, depending on what else is going on in my life. Also, I grew up in the church of going camping or skiing as much as possible, so the outdoors wins on Sundays quite frequently. I MEANT erratic about going to church, so stop laughing, ok? Right, I might be erratic in a few other areas. Not medicine, though, so there.

My parents raised my sister and me "devout atheist". That's my term. We were raised atheist and nearly never went to church but both our parents are nuts about music and sang everything. They were in the big community choruses and we heard sacred music from very young. We also know many verses of what we call "dead girl songs" and silly songs and scurrilous folk songs. My mother adored ritual so she celebrated holidays thoroughly: Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. We always dyed eggs and did elaborate ones with the layers of wax and multiple colors. It was very joyous and I learned a lot more about religion than I realized: from the text of the music. During my divorce, I realized that I was going to need help with rituals and community connection. We joined the Unitarian Church. The love of poetry, shared with my minister, is pure bonus.

So happy whatever you celebrate and I hope that some wish that you have is granted, even if it is small. Rumi says that the Beloved encourages longing. Here comes Santa again, to let us dream of someone who knows us so well that they give us the perfect gift.

You are within a dark space, perhaps a hall, or the hold of a ship, dark timberwork and shadows.
You are surrounded by ice.
On your right is a statue of a man, striding out like Liberty, cold and blue-clear.
In front of you is a block, frosty white. Inside there is a hollow space; a man standing.
To your left there is another figure, curled up and turned away.
Walk forward and touch the ice. Feel the slick chill of melting.
Colour runs into the sawdust. Your hands are faded.
Perhaps you are ice too.

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