Sonnet Sunday 24: If I Were Catholic

I’ve always liked the idea of being a hermit. Even as a kid I imagined living in complete isolation in a cabin in the middle of a woods in the middle of nowhere (darn the Unabomber for ruining that idea). And, of course, I’ve lived alone for almost eight years now. Solitude has never been lonely.

Long story, but I recently invited a mom and daughter to live with me as long-term houseguests/short-term roommates. While I don’t recall what inspired this particular poem, I suspect it will ring particularly true over the coming weeks and months as I readapt to life with people around. “No man is an island,” writes John Donne, and in this case I’m called to open the cloistered solitude of my home to others. Because while there is great value for a called few to truly dedicate their lives to the Church (Catholic or Protestant), I am not among them. And that means doing sometimes messy things like opening up my home.

(Note: I don’t mean to sound self-righteous in this. Actually, I expect to need to revisit this over the next few months to remind myself that, yes, I did the right thing.)

As a final thought, this was the last poem I posted in my old Livejournal poetry account. I posted it with the following note:

First one I’ve written in over a year, apparently, so I have no pretenses about its quality.

Ironically, although I don’t remember why I wrote it, this poem wound up being one of the ones that I remember most clearly, and I actually didn’t edit it at all here. Go me for ending that Livejournal account on a high note, I guess.

If I Were Catholic

Written June 25, 2009

If I were Catholic, I’d become a nun,
Devoting life to fasting and to prayer;
The wearies of this world, then, I would shun;
In solitude—yes, I’d find solace there.
To serve the church, my only joy and goal;
My only focus would be the divine,
And every moment, Your name to extol;
And all my work directly would be Thine.
Cloistered, perhaps, my heart would be at peace,
Unsullied by temptations—lust or greed.
How deeply do I yearn for this release!
But You’re my guide—and that’s not where You lead.
Though this world hurts, and though I’m weak and small,
I’ll keep myself outside those sacred walls.