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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Deeper Mysteries of Halloween

Halloween originated as a Christian holy day (holiday) called the "Eve of All Saints" or "All Hollows Eve." The evening of October 31 was the first time that the feast of remembrance of all Saints could be celebrated in the churches. November 1 is the Feast day of All Saints, but just as Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve, so All Saints begins on All Saints Eve.

The following poem, by Ed Pacht, is dramatic and evocative. It takes the form of a Litany and speaks of the deeper mysteries of Halloween. The secularization of Halloween has caused people to lose the original meaning of this Christian holiday. Traditonally, this is the time of the year when all those who had died are remembered by name during the service and thanks offered for their lives. In the earliest days of Christianity many who had died that year were martyred for their faith; some crucified, some beheaded, and some burned alive.

Today Halloween is a cheap fall festivity. It is about co…

What are we required to prove?

(Quod Erat Demonstrandum) by Amy Fogelstrom Chai

That which must be demonstrated
Is never what we think;
Angles, sections, slices, arcs fall
Neatly, in Euclidean order.
Time marks every palm and etches each eye— Geometry

That which must be divided
Is never what we expect;
The numerator stands, needing no other
Until, completed by another
One divides one, the solution remains--Unity

That which must be comprehended
Is rarely what we see;
Answers seem beyond our grasp
And will be, unless together
We seize the compass, and trace the heavens--Infinity

And what are you and I required to prove?

Monsters, Mummies, Banshees and Blobs

Here are some delightful poems for the season of ghosts and ghouls. All are written by a talented fifth grader named Shelby Stuart.

The Vampire at the Amusement Park

What an embarrassment. What a shame.
I no longer have my own good name.
Do you promise not to peep?
On the Upside-Down Coaster – I fell asleep!

Big Sister Mummy to Brother

I told you not to pull my hair
many times before.
Even though it’s barely there’s
no reason to ignore.
You’re being as annoying
as a big old moth.
So PLEASE stop toying
and stop yanking my cloth!

Banshee’s Blunder

Yes, I know it’s sensible.
It’s truly comprehensible.
But still, I feel
like some kind of nut
when on the roller coaster
you taped my mouth shut.

The Blob’s Fast Food Dining

I cannot believe what I’ve seen.
I started to lose my slimy sheen.
I screamed as loud as I was able
when I saw gum under the table.

Cynthia Erlandson's "These Holy Mysteries"

Cynthia Erlandson studied writing at Wheaton College (Illinois). Since 1990, she has been writing poetry that reflects her love of the sonorous language and liturgical themes of the Book of Common Prayer. I'm not sure which edition inspires her the most, but it probably isn't the 1979 prayer book, which falls short on poetic beauty, liturgical elegance, and theological substance.

In her volume of poems, These Holy Mysteries (a line taken from the Eucharistic Prayer), Cynthia treats the liturgical seasons of the Church. Her poems are rich in alliteration and explore the contrasts of light and darkness, drought and flood, and feast and fast.
Cynthia Erlandson's poems have appeared in Touchstone and in A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation (edited by my friend Luci Shaw, with whom I used to worship at Bethany Chapel in Wheaton). Here are 2 of the poems that appear in These Holy Mysteries.

Easter Monday
-Luke 24:13-35

With hearts eclipsed by Friday’s three-day night

Synchronized for a Moment

Locus Iste

An ambulance 
rumbled past
the outdoor 
choir concert
on a last-of-
summer Sunday 
in Utrecht

there for one
brief measure
we saw 
the choristers 
sing its siren

their open 
mouths howling 
the news 
of a heart 
stalled some-
where down 
the street

then it was
back to Bruckner 
and the slow 
of voices
softening into 
God’s silence.

--Emily Ruppel

From God and Nature: Fall 2012