Living at the Center of the Cross

You can listen to my homily from last Sunday using the player below. There are a couple of references I used to put this sermon together that I want to give credit to. I got the story of Anne Sexton’s correspondence with a Benedictine Monk from this article by Nick Ripatrazone on LitHub. The Erica Jong quotes come from her obituary of Sexton in the New York Times on October 27, 1974, which is behind a paywall, so I can’t link to it here. The poetry I quote is Sexton’s, of course, and the homily focusing on a specific poem, “The Big Heart,” which you can find below the audio player.

 

The Big Heart
Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold
. – from an essay by William Butler Yeats

Big heart,
wide as a watermelon,
but wise as birth,
there is so much abundance
in the people I have:
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise,
Joan, Marie, Dawn,
Arlene, Father Dunne,
and all in their short lives
give to me repeatedly,
in the way the sea
places its many fingers on the shore,
again and again
and they know me,
they help me unravel,
they listen with ears made of conch shells,
they speak back with the wine of the best region.
They are my staff.
They comfort me.

They hear how
the artery of my soul has been severed
and soul is spurting out upon them,
bleeding on them,
messing up their clothes, dirtying their shoes.
And God is filling me,
though there are times of doubt
as hollow as the Grand Canyon,
still God is filling me.
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs,
the spider in its intricate web,
the sun
in all its amazement,
and a slain ram
that is the glory,
the mystery of great cost,
and my heart,
which is very big,
I promise it is very large,
a monster of sorts,
takes it all in–
all in comes the fury of love.