Easter in a Dying Church (1996)

They come because they have always come…

2015-12-13-Nearly-empty-churchand on this day of days,

not to pass through the beckoning door,

not to let their careful footsteps drum

old echoes from the wooden floor

would deny the pattern of their ways

and all the times that they have come before.

They sit where they have always sat…

each in the customary pew,

with room enough for all,

even for the visiting few

who do not hear the sweet, unearthly voices

singing Alleluia in memories so loud;

room enough for those who do not recall

the passings, the accidents, the choices

which have thickened the witnessing cloud

and left this sparse, embodied remnant of the hosts

surrounded by their ghosts.

They come to meet where they have always met…

to taste the wine with a beloved friend

who has faded from sight

but still shares the cup in the world without end,

to break bread with the cherished spouse

who, though swallowed by the light,

still prays beside each member of this house,

to meet children, uncles, sisters, mothers,

cousins, aunts, fathers, brothers,

in soul or body distanced from their common place—

to allow for them a sanctioned space.

They come to be seen with the unseen…

to testify to the most revered of their presumptions:

that before and beyond here and now

the empty tomb

leaves a hole in all assumptions.

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