Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mary at Macugnaga

Here are two poems written on holiday in the Italian Alps, in the run-up to the summer festival of Our Lady of the Snows, a special celebration in the alpine ski village of Macugnaga. During those days a walker drowned in a fast running alpine stream, and a couple went missing in a storm up above the snow-line. This region is truly a place of wonder but also of sadness,for those who brave the elements and fail. It caused me to reflect on the popular local devotion to Mary, for whom Simeon prophesied, foreseeing the death of her son Jesus, that a sword would pierce her own soul too.

Sunny woman of Palestine
hailed and welcomed here
high among the havens
of this wintry place.
What thoughts are in your heart
as you intercede for these
who gently put their trust in you?
Could it be that the sadness I see
beneath your attitude of prayer
is for the children here who dare
to make bold in the cold deserts
of forgotten places near the sky –
those whose hearts for danger burn
more than for the subtler pastures
of the Spirit’s art?
You who have know the singular dread
of meeting, at hearthside, byre and garden gate
th’eternally silent call to obey,
pray, sadly pray for those who go
searching for the silence beyond where silence is
and find no rest,
even in icy tomb at hour of death.
JKK, Macunaga 6.08.1984

"Some day", thought she
"Will he, who lies so sweetly now
against my side
cradle my tired head in his strong arms
and close my eyes to the fading world
in peace and surety?
The child in sleep sobbed sadly
and she the sword's pain felt again
- remembering their destiny -
and prayed
"Must this be?"
JKK, Macugnaga 10.8.84

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