These Men, We Hope, Were Born for This

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Slowly the old men process into the chapel
In their red silks and satins,
Placing hands upon the sacred text.
Surrounded by younger pages and servants,
They still smell of holy scent.
And then they seal the doors with ribbon and wax
 To wait for outpouring of white smoke.
 
Only a few weeks ago, the old pope left—
Booming thunder and crashing lightening
Striking the great dome….
The rock of the Church shuddered
And the Chair of Peter was left vacant for now.
 
If this were war, the bullets would whine—
But here there is only politics, prayer and red wine.
If there is an awakening as result of the shaking,
Then Spirit will be hovering dense.
These men were, we hope, born for this.
 
All I know is that they cannot choose two.
When the storm is finished and white smoke
Billows out to be blown by the wind of the world,
Only one shall stand before all the others,
Whispering, “God Help Me!”
 
Eventually, when they rake the ashes away,
What fragments will be found in the dust
That historians shall suspiciously come to trust?
For you and for me, the air will be filled
With prayer as the curtain is parted.  Habemus Papam!
 
Will he be blind like us?
Will he stumble in light and grope in the night?
Will he know any better the tapering path of his mind?
There will be none so lonely and poor in his riches
As he who will search in the heat of the day,
Listening for a voice in warm Roman breeze,
Always looking for a lark or a dove—
Some sign that holiness is worth the pain.

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