At the End of the Semester

by Mark Chmiel

For friends in
Spirituality of Service
& Social Justice classes

I want us to be freer
I don’t want us to be thrall to guilt

I want us to let our light shine
Why play hide and seek with our soul?

Tomorrow is as far away as Hiroshima
Right now is our permanent mailing address

When you hear the knock
Fling open the door

I want us to give ourselves as much love
As we give our best friend when she’s broken

When you look into the eyes of the stranger and you see yourself
Are you seeing God or is God seeing you?

When you are a nanosecond away from totally giving up
Realize a nanosecond is all you need

Satori—compassion—accompaniment—brilliance (You are the light of the world)
Are one nanosecond one thought away

We usually make it so hard
Playacting at Sisyphus for a day or week

But, you say, there are finals and papers and applications and deadlines
And teachers who just don’t understand!

And I say: But there’s famine
And then there’s friendship

There’s the 30,000 headed to the quicksand in Afghanistan
And then there’s Linsey singing with her Nepali friends

There’s the gluttony of Goldman Sachs
And there’s the generosity of the SLU Monologists

Pessimism of the intelligence
Optimism of the will

Buddha smiled and George Harrison sang, All things must pass
Marx observed and Che embodied, The philosophers have heretofore interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it

You’ll blink, too
And you’ll be 27 nursing your first child

Or you’ll be a resident at a huge hospital in Manhattan
And sleep will be your god

The point isn’t your GPA
The point isn’t how many schools you’ll get into

The point isn’t applause and awards
And future job security

“Oh, really?
What is the point?”

The point is to practice
The point is to turn to your neighbor

The point is to insert yourself where you don’t belong, until you do belong
And then insert yourself all over again

The point is to fall more deeply in love with reading
The point is to be your own unique gospel

The point is to be the light of the world
Your light in your world

The point is to be at home in the world and in your own skin
Your skin is the world

The point is to hear the bell in the cry of the children
The point is to cultivate your multitudes

The point is to know you can write anyplace
The point is to know you can love anyone

The point is that you are Chân Không
You are Katie Cushwa

You are Buddha
You are Jesus

And we are also an unstable, ever-morphing collection of fears and fuck-ups
And doubt is torture

Nevertheless
Hold it all

Open the heart
Close the SOA

Take a deep breath
Free Palestine

See the neighbor
Pass the bread, pass the nan, pass the cinnamon roll

The good news is
Here you are

The good news is
You are now

— Laclede Coffee, 8:30 a.m.
Thursday 3 December 2009

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