The Holy Innocents – A Poem

On a silent night

They came

Destroying the calm

With the rattle of armour 

And the swish of steel 

They killed as ordered by their jealous and insecure king

On a silent night

They slept

From the crook of Mother’s arm

They were snatched

And dispatched

Mercifully (one hopes) with a single slice or a single stab

On a silent night

They wept

For their lineage broken 

Their dream bleeding out

Before his first word, his first step

Leaving houses stained with sorrow that could never be cleansed 

On a silent night

They left

Their son spared but wailing

For innocents, young and old,

Corrupted by the evilness of ego 

Silence will not bring the redemption needed to heal the night 

I saw this sign in a yard on a recent walk. My cynical side said, “Really? Doesn’t seem like it…” My hopeful side said, “Um, I think that message was for you. ”

Today is the Catholic Feast of the Holy Innocents, a day we remember the male children aged 2 and under who were slaughtered by King Herod because he feared one of them would be the king who would take his throne (Matthew 2, specifically verses 13 -18). I did not set out to post a poem today. Actually, since I have been MIA, I was going to post something in the new year – one of my new year’s resolutions.

But as I was perusing WordPress for inspiration, I found this prompt from the Go Dog Go Cafe (although I didn’t use the prompt words in this poem) then these two articles about the Feast of the Holy Innocents was delivered to my email – this one from the point of a view of mother who had lost a child and this one that provides some background about these first martyrs for Christ.

Despite being a mother who has lost two babies and who has read about children being killed in schools due to gun violence, I have never really thought about the Holy Innocents. In the Christmas stories, it doesn’t get the same recognition as the shepherds or the magi. Maybe it’s because it’s such a horrific event and we don’t want to associate it with the happiness of Christmas. Maybe it’s because the killing of children has become so commonplace in our society that it doesn’t even register as something that needs special attention (think of refugee children running from war-torn countries or all the children living below the poverty line in the United States). Maybe it’s simply because this feast day is not celebrated on a Sunday.

Whatever the reason, today, I’m remembering all the innocents that have been lost and all the innocence that has been lost, specifically in the past six years. Maybe this loss started before that time, but as we close out 2021 and review what is happening in the United States of America politically and morally, I find the sorrow of a mother who lost a child welling up again.

©️ 2021 iido

You Are Here – A Rhyming Poem

“Mama! Where are you?” 

My little boy cried

Standing by the toilet, 

At least he tried.

“I am here,” I say,

With mop in hand

Doing the job 

That I can’t stand.

“Honey! Where are you?” 

My love seeks me out

“I’m back from fishing 

With some huge trout!”

“I’m here,” I say, 

Fingers newly manicured

They’ll be chipped by dinner

That’s now ensured.

“Sweetie, where are you?” 

My mom’s on the line

“If you don’t call, 

How do I know you’re fine?”

“I’m here,” I sigh, 

On my errand drive.

Now, another stop, 

Will I be done by five?

“Oh, there, you are!”

My friend, from the school

Holding signs to fundraise

For the new pool

“I’m here,” I offer,

Accepting the task

I draw smiley faces,

That match my mask.

“I’m tired, I need rest,”

I hide in the shower

“Being there is so draining,”

My energy dips lower.

“I am here,” a voice whispers

“And you are here, too.

I can help you through this.

I’m here for you.”

I raise my eyes

To the Light from above

And feel myself

Wrapped up in His love

My strength renewed,

I cried without fear.

My heart knew the truth:

Alleluia! You are here!

IMG_5628

I’ve been missing the deadlines for Sadje’s “What Do You See?” picture prompts the past few weeks. Saturday was coming up so fast! But maybe that was because I was losing track of the days…

This week’s picture prompt for Sadje’s “What Do You See?” #24 is a photo with a neon sign that reads “You are here” against a blurred city background. It immediately made me think of the Catholic hymn, “Here I Am, Lord,” and one of my favorite stories from the Bible.

It also made me think of how often I am called every day – not by God (at least, I don’t think it’s Him, although, maybe it is…) but by my children, my hubby, my parents, my siblings, my friends, people who aren’t my friends.  Especially now, being home all day, every day – I can’t escape the “needs” (because “demands” seem too harsh) of the people and situations arounds me.  FYI – the hiding in the bathroom part of the poem is based on  a true story.

The hearing of God’s voice is also true, although not as dramatic. I haven’t actually heard His voice, but I have gone to mass (so much easier to do now that all it entails is just turning on the TV) and have come across several serendipitous articles that speak to God’s role as Compassionate Comforter.  With all the uncertainty and fear in the world, I have found myself turning to the One Constant in this world.  Indeed, nothing has changed with mass since I was child – the order of sitting, standing, kneeling is still the same; what the Priest says during the consecration is the same; the hymns are the same; that message of unconditional love is the same.

I know many people have rightful concerns and issues about the Catholic Church. I was even thinking of putting a trigger warning at the start of this post because I know some of my readers feel very strongly about the corruption in the Catholic Church especially with regards to the cover-up of child sexual abuse (please let me know if I should have).

And I agree – the part of the Church that is made by man is terribly flawed. But the spiritual part is not (at least in my opinion). The consistent message of hope and love is not.

And right now, it’s that message of hope and love, that is helping me through this shelter in place.

Happy Easter to my Christian readers! Chag Pesach Sameach to my Jewish readers!

 

(c) 2020 iido

Mass – A Limerick

The priest intoned in a voice deep

The solemn promise that God keeps

He loved us on the cross

We gained life through his loss

The cost of salvation doesn’t come cheap

The body of St. John Neumann in repose under the altar at the St. John Neumann Shrine.

This irreverent limerick (is that redundant?) was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #221 – Mass. My streak is still going strong! While Patrick’s heavy poem focused on mass in the physical sense, I went in a more spiritual direction.

I spent yesterday on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. John Neumann with my daughter’s Confirmation Class. We had never been there before and this was actually our first “pilgrimage” together. I really enjoyed learning about St. John Neumann who is known as the Patron Saint of Immigrants. He was the first male saint from the United States of America.

St. John Neumann’s remains are interred in the shrine underneath the main altar (yes! That’s totally him in the picture above!). We celebrated mass before we left the shrine and I couldn’t help but look at his remains during the entire mass. Here was an actual saint, a man who was so moved by God’s love and God’s message to the world that he changed the New World! He founded the first Catholic Schools in the United States and created 89 churches, most of which catered to specific immigrant groups who had come to the United States from Europe.

St. John Neumann was made a saint when I was three years old. The latest miracle attributed to him occurred in 1982 in Philadelphia. The boy who was cured is now 41 years old and living in Ohio. Do you believe that miracles can still happen in this day and age?

©️ 2020 iido