top of page
  • Writer's pictureSt. Luke's

Cloistered As We Are

Judy Bevilacqua

A Poem from the Pandemic for Maundy Thursday

Cloistered as we are

like distant brothers and sisters

In this strange monastic time

We find our way through The Hours,

awkwardly, having forgotten

the ancient prayers:

“Lord have mercy….Christ have mercy”

Only the spontaneous: HELP!

and unbidden expletives

of honest supplication.

We shuffle in robes,

terrycloth not sackcloth.

We clutch our crucifix of mortality

all through the day.

Our are beads worn down

by doubts and apprehension.

Discarded dogmas amplify our unknowing

Making our fragile faith

translucent with light.

Silence companions our days

like a blind priest

guiding us toward calm.

No bells, but the peal of finch and sparrow

No stained glass but the shattered sunset

leaded by the branches of the birch.

No Eucharist, but our daily bread,

eaten alone,

with or without being blessed.

Local news speaks of Thy Will Being Done

Headlines ask will Thy Kingdom Come?

glimpses of good Samaritans emerge

petitions of urgency and anguish erupt

murmurs of gratitude hover over our sleep.

Churches are shuttered, signs flapping on doors

But altars appear everywhere

surprising us into worship;

praises on the porch,

humming at the kitchen window,

wonder near the mailbox

There is no incense but the onion soup,

the kitchen filled with its sacred steam

bread rising like hope under the towel.

The holy rituals of making coffee,

the tea, now a ceremony.

We handle the familiar elements,

now sacred to our sanity.

Washing our hands, like physicians

or perhaps like Pilate…

The rites of dressing, preparing for bed,

laundry, cooking….all becomes liturgy

slowed in a memorized rhythm

with new weight.

Our daily walks,

now pilgrimages to holy places,

the park, the wetland, the quiet blocks

the corner store for milk.

we nod our absolution and blessing

to passersby. They return the nod

“and also with you.”

We tend the scattered flocks:

our animals, or neighbors in need,

with bread and errands or

solace called over a fence,

or waved across a deserted street.

And our family afar,

we feed with letters and calls,

preserved with the salt of tears

and reassurances of love.

Our scriptures are tangled with headlines;

prophecies of doom and

Old testament dreams and plagues

followed by a deafening quiet.

How long? How long?

Those 400 years of silence become

our own uncharted hours of seclusion.

We sense the promise of a

forgotten covenant, buried in debris,

may be rising out of shifting plates

and terrifying statistics.

And now we shelter in place

whether as gathered, or as the Diaspora,

Not to an address or particular space

But that deeper abode,

burrowed by fear or love into the Ground of All Being

~ our beloved belonging.

It is still Lent. The first day of Spring has come,

the trees are in bloom

Already we wear Good Friday as a garment

Grasping the earth in both hands,

hoping for purchase ~

we throw dirt over our heads in penance

then plant peas and lettuce

like seeds of eternity.

It is a long grief

and like the apostles

we do not know the outcome

we only dream of that

resilience called Resurrection

and of our mysterious life to come.

World without End


39 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page