Shrove Tuesday

Dear Lord, yes I need—oh, I want to be shriven,
to confess my deep darkness and know I’m forgiven,
but before I’ve come clean, repented and laid
my sin at your feet, it will go on parade.
Before I pretend to be some holy saint
I’ll show everybody the saint that I ain’t.
Before I’m a humble, obedient monk
I’ll be lecherous, greedy, self-centered and drunk.
I can’t claim to be a devoted ascetic,
whose piety’s sugar-free and diabetic.
I’ll be honest: I like my butter and eggs,
and ease, and the curve of a young woman’s legs.
So when I give up every sweet and confection
it’s not ’cause I think I’ll attain some perfection:
when I make the big forty-day giving-up switch
I’ll still be a glutton for things that are rich.
On Ash Wednesday I’ll put on those ashes and dust,
but you’ll see on Fat Tuesday my sweet tooth, my lust,
my eros— so we both know I am a slave
to the richest and loveliest things that I crave.
In these forty gaunt days I won’t leave my desire,
but I’ll feed it and flaunt it and fan its flames higher—
not for flesh or for food, but my fasting will be
still a ravenous passion aflame within me:
not a proof of my right or an act of my will,
but more hunger, as always, more greed to fulfill
my desire for the loveliest pleasure I’ve known:
my longing for you, my Beloved, alone.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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