Come to the Party

You Are InvitedSend me a party invitation, and my first impulse is to look for a good reason why I probably can’t make it. Too many nightmare memories of the young Margaret standing against a wall or sitting on a couch, silent and aflame in her very own self-conscious isolation.

As years pass, I find myself less likely to succumb to that first impulse, and a little more likely to brush my hair, put on my good shoes, take a deep breath, and go to the party. Though I’ll probably still spend a good part of the event in silence, the silence will not feel as awkward as before. After 60 years of life, I’m more comfortable in my silence than I used to be.

And I’m more interested in looking around me for signs of that big party—the one with a standing invitation—the one that’s always happening—the celebration we all find ourselves wishing for, avoiding, embracing, slipping into and out of throughout all our lives.

On January 19, after a soup supper at my home parish of St. Paul’s in Port Townsend, the poet Christine Hemp offered a session titled “Finding Your Voice in the Wilderness: Writing Liturgical Poems for Fun and Contemplation.”

For inspiration, we read the thrilling lines from the opening of Isaiah 49: “Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me…”

Christine taught a simple exercise to help us side-step the control freaks in our heads, and then, after a bit of writing, we all shared what came out.

As often happens with me in groups, I froze up and wasn’t able to write much more than a few halting phrases. Still, we were kind and attentive to each other, and I enjoyed hearing the spirit made flesh in everybody else’s work.

The next day I drove down to the Priory Spirituality Center in Lacey for a delayed and much-needed silent retreat. In my small room, I again started from Isaiah 49, tried Christine’s exercise to get me started, then scribbled drafts of a new poem over and over in my spiral notebook, relieved to be alone, silent, free from word processors, and reduced to the simple physicality of pen and paper.

Here is the latest version of this work in progress:

The Invitation 

Come to the party
O silent one—

take breath

stand and walk
up to the awful portal

turn the lever you thought
must be locked

feel it slip soft as oil
smooth as new-made workings

until you sense the end and pull
open the polished door

cross the sill now
silvery with candlelight

hear your name called aloud
in honor and welcome

your gift for the house
is all ready in your hands

your gift already in the offering.

• • •

With blessings and best wishes for a good time at the party,

Margaret

About Margaret D. McGee

Comments

  1. I think that I know why I feel a “kindred spirit” with you…my mother and father are Catholic too and my mother likes many of the same things that you do. She played for her church choir on the piano for years. She loved her mother who passed away last fall dearly. She likes the little labrynth with the bench up the bike path from me. (I should take a picture of it for you in the spring). She seems to read, listen to and ponder the same scriptures that you do. Is there any way that I can share your site on mine?