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Earlier this week I ran into this poem.  I don’t know where.  Then, yesterday one of my sisters shared it in a book club discussion group of which I am a part.  And it made me think, "As with Mom; so with God"  Is it a coincidence that I’ve been troubled by the little I really did for her and the little I really do for God?  And I don’t mean in a self-pity kind of way; rather in the way that one can never really say thank you; one can never really make up or make it equal; one can never really do enough.  But one can try and one can learn.

"The Lanyard"

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past —
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift–not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

From Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

. . . .

above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We are impatient of being

on the way to somewhere unknown,

something new!

And yet, it is the law of all progress

that is made by passing through

some stages of instability –

and that may take a very long time!

And so, I think it is with us

our ideas mature gradually –

let them grow,

let them shape themselves

without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today

what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances

acting on their own good will)

will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.

Give God the benefit of believing

that God’s hand is leading you

and accept the anxiety of

feeling yourself in suspense

and incomplete!


September 2007