Girdle for the Grieving: a Prayer, a Trilogy
Dennis McNally, SJ
The terrible birds of righteous retribution killed so many little ones in order to destroy a symbolic foothold of the modern world.
The teeth of a demon,
fuzzy from the plaque of frustration,
bared to brilliantly brutal smiles by an unholy indignation,
ripped at the heart of the great city.
Death came, disastrous and sudden,
to people with personal hopes and love for their families,
in wars fought by titans
from behind walled citadels,
protected by shadows of strength and
the winds of iniquity.
Teacher, look, even the birds are burning.
Bits of paper flying upward like so many souls seeking solace,
the icons of commercial success melting in smoke and sound,
the World Trade Center so soon no more.
Grieving great human loss and
regretting grandiose schemes,
wretched we, we worry what’s next.
your legendary care for doubting Thomas,
dropping your girdle for him to accept that you had left this life,
is a majestic myth.
Your blue band of belting became
a foundational relic of some cathedral-reliquary like Notre Dame in Paris
or Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome,
a foundation of our ancient faith.
Renaissance reconnaissance redoubling the myth,
Santa Maria Gloriosa, Vergine, Madre, Regina Assunta,
Your window, the Belle Verriere at Chartres, transfuses the prayers
of pilgrims to Gothic France.
You bless the motherland of culture and
giving power to the poor,
healing to the humble,
and luminous, lightsome grace to the bereaved.
We are a world without restraint, too. We, too, need an unfathomable blessing.
In ancient art you remind us that your Son steps into our world, into our worries.
Let your mantle fall again on a grieving people who lost dear ones
at the central market of the new world order,
Grace the gates where the twin towers beckoned us to
The pinnacle of worldly pride and capitalistic wisdom, crushed to dust and defeat.
Madonna del Pilar,
Theotokos of the Council of Ephesus,
Lady of Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima,
Krakow, Atocha, Cebu,
Auschwitz, Beijing, Nanjing,
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and
Queen of Heaven,
you blush in tearful anomalies on plaster statues and in the hearts of simple men and women. See us simple enough to seek the veiled value of Faith and Hope trying still to live in love.
Dennis McNally, SJ
26 August 2011