I Mark Your Courage

I had no profound feelings of shock or surprise
To those matter-of-fact revelations
Which spelled the end of this chapter of your life.
It was, as you put it, too late for recriminations,
And the horrendous realities could be no worse
For having faced them.

I mark your courage in that moment of admission,
When your soul cried out in sympathetic pain,
Worn thin by abrasions of self-imprisonment
And total subjugation to providence.
You did not disguise your frailty
As lesser men are apt by schemes
Which shorten their horizons, elaborate their dreams.

That you are a molecule conniving in
The physics of human chemistry
Is no slight upon your status,
Without dynamic you are less
A man of cloth than habit claims you be;
And martyr to ascription is the poorer fate
Than anticipated condemnation from
A selfless breach of faith.

Ordinary passions do not progress beyond
The continuum of priestly enlightenment; we share
A whole psychology of man’s experience
As our eternal life. Its unitary expression
Is no greater than the measureless sum,
And the sum is no value less than life itself.
No enlightened soul can judge another man
For passions of humanity; the sentence of conscience
Is an arbitrary punishment in which we all delight.

I am no herdsman fearing ill in ceaseless care
Of herded sheep, nor could I choose
Entanglement with such an entity; your flock
Survives as do your prayers, and will survive
Long past your flight. You earned their trust
In episodes of heart and light, and keep
Its privileged charter frozen out of time,
Embalmed in a perfect past.
As one we mourn your passing.

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I Mark Your Courage