Practiced Faith

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If I recall correctly, this poem sprouted from five word-seeds, including immutably, ineluctable, and ostensibly. I love the sound and weight of these words. On one hand, we’re told by writing “experts” to avoid overusing adverbs, but used fittingly (cough, cough), they add flavor, like any good seasoning, to the main course of the poem itself. Here, they provide a spine or thread reemerging in each quatrain, capping the alternating vignettes of visiting my grandparents’ homes in the greater Philadelphia area as a child.

First, it’s sitting at my maternal grandparents’ kitchen table on a Saturday morning while my grandfather endlessly stirs his coffee as he reads the paper, the Morton Honey Buns warming in the toaster oven. Then, it’s a typical Sunday afternoon at my paternal grandmother’s row-house in Northeast Philadelphia, gathering with my aunt and uncle over a healthy serving of pasta. I return to Saturday morning at my maternal grandparents’ home, watercolor painting with my sister before breakfast on scrap paper with the paints my grandmother brought home from the public school where she worked. I switch back to my Italian grandmother’s home for dessert: a bowl of strawberry Jell-O, cubed up and floating in a small pool of half-n-half. Finally, I share an image not unique to either of my grandparents’ homes (I actually have vivid memories of the crocuses at my own childhood home), a reminder of how life moves on in fresh cycles of rebirth.

For me, these are moments of practiced faith, moments covered in the fingerprints of God, in some ways more authentic and divine than the loftiest of cathedrals or hallowed services. And how easily I have missed those moments daily. It’s why I’m so much more alert to red-tailed hawks as I drive the highways – they truly are God’s reminder to me of His presence and His Spirit that not only stands above all the chaos of living, but also plunges into the midst of our days. It’s a reminder. Be more aware! Don’t so casually write off the “mundane moments / of practical living.” Rather, see them as invitations to “the thousand ineluctable moments / of practiced faith.”

Practiced Faith

Vincent H. Anastasi – 2015

I encounter you
in the most simple of actions,
the most mundane moments
of practical living:

sound of spoon
ringing around coffee cup,
endlessly stirring,
calling each day to order;

smell of sauce
drifting from Tyson Avenue
steadily sustaining,
satiating Sunday afternoons;

watercolor dawns
pressed in Rorschach pigments
recurringly hanging,
imbuing canvas of horizon and fridge;

strawberry Jell-O cubes
floating in half-n-half
immutably contrasting,
dancing tactile flavors;

brisk March winds
peeling back skin
perennially awakening,
rousing drowsy crocuses from frosty soil.

Now I see ostensibly
how regularly I’ve missed you
in the rote and remembered actions,
the thousand ineluctable moments
of practiced faith.

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