14 January 2010

The Master Beggar by Jessica Powers

The tragedy in Haiti can leave us stunned, speechless, and inarticulate -- especially as we try to relate or mesh the glory of Christmas recently celebrated with such devastation. We find ways to help because there is where we are especially to bring Christ, and also where we find Him in a privileged way --- our God who reveals himself exhaustively in human flesh. Meanwhile, poets find ways to express the truths involved in this --- and the challenges of the Incarnation more generally. My prayer is that this awful event will trouble each and all of us for our human heart.

The Master Beggar

Worse than the poorest mendicant alive.
the pencil man, the blind man with his breath
of music shaming all who do not give,
are You to me, Jesus of Nazareth

Must you take up your post on every block
of every street? Do I have no release?
Is there no room of earth that I can lock
to Your sad face, Your pitiful whisper, "Please?"

I seek the counters of time's gleaming store
but make no purchases, for You are there.
How can I waste one coin while you implore
with tear-soiled cheeks and dark blood-matted hair?

And when I offer you in charity
pennies minted by love, still, still, You stand
fixing Your sorrowful wide eyes on me.
Must all my purse be emptied in Your hand?

Jesus, my beggar, what would You have of me?
Father and Mother? the lover I longed to know?
The child I would have cherished tenderly?
Even the blood that through my heart's valves flows?

I too would be a beggar. Long tormented,
I dream to grant You all and stand apart
with You on some bleak corner, tear-frequented,
and trouble mankind for its human heart.

Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), 1937