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Glorious Companions Plus One

by Lionel E. Deimel

 

Whilst reading of great builders of the faith—

Of Cranmer, Hooker, Donne, and the rest—

God, as if a hurricane—

Beautiful, awesome, and terrible—

Waxing and waning in strength,

Hastening and slowing,

Tracks the hidden terrain of our hearts,

And, taking unexpected turns,

Strikes.

 

Hurricane

 

It is difficult to predict how people will react to the material in any class dealing with ideas. This poem was written as a homework exercise in a church class based on Richard H. Schmidt’s book Glorious Companions. The book contains biographies and excerpts from the writings of notable Anglicans, beginning with the author of the Book of Common Prayer, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The class discussion of each famous Anglican took surprising turns, based on the interests and concerns of class members.

The class facilitator—the Rev. Mary Weatherwax did not claim the mantle of “teacher”—asked the question: “Where is God in our class?” She invited people to write “a couple of words, a couple of sentences, a couple of paragraphs, a poem, a prayer, or a short essay” addressing her question.

Two of my poems had been read in the class, so I felt some obligation to write a poem for the assignment. I put off thinking about the assignment until Saturday night. It was perhaps natural to think of the turns our discussions had taken and to liken the phenomenon to the unpredictable path of Hurricane Charley, which had just struck the state of Florida. I went to bed, however, with nothing more that a line and a few random words, all of which had little to do with the final product.

I woke up before my alarm went off Sunday morning, August 15, 2004, with a clear idea for a poem, and I wrote and printed a copy of “Glorious Companions Plus One” before leaving for church and class.

I’m not sure this poem is well-titled, as I have several times had to explain the meaning of “Plus One.” The glorious companions of the book title are the famous Anglicans of whom Schmidt writes, of course, and the “Plus One” of  my title refers to God.

— LED, 8/20/2004

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