Addison tells of spending his summer
clearing the farm his family has owned
since the revolutionary war
acres and acres of overgrown fields –
pastures and hayfields, hedgerows, forest growth –
a big enterprise for an ex-farm boy
turned minister in a flowing cassock
not handy for plowing. I’ve seen him lift
the bread and wine in pale hands above
the bowing heads of his parishioners.
And as he tells about his summer work
I see the chalice turn into a saw,
the handles darkened with his father’s sweat,
and before that, his grandfather’s, on down
the generations until the sad phrase
delivered in the garden comes to mind:
“sweat of your brow,” which now is Addison’s,
clearing the land so that we see the light
as it first shone on Adam, pruning turned
into a kind of hands-on ministry.
What did he see once the hedgerows were cleared?
The skies opening, divine light beaming down
on distant vistas of a promised land?
Salvation for God’s sweating minister?
But he saw only what was there to see –
rolling green hills such as a child might draw,
cars moving on a distant road like beads
on an abacus, a neighbor hanging wash:
the earth released and grown so luminous
that he was saved simply by seeing it.
P.S. Even though next week is Wedding Week, I’ll be popping in with a few pre-scheduled post… and maybe a few behind-the-scenes details from our preparations! Wish us luck!