Call Me Reverend
Call me reverend, call me padre or father,
man of the cloth, pastor, minister, oh wise one,
leader of men, shepherd, or guy who became
an ordained minister on-line in less than
five real live human minutes.
Call me the guy who has credentials
to marry and bury and a parking permit
and a press pass and a free pass
and a bumper sticker that says,
“We are all children of the same universe”
above the symbolic representations
of all the faiths on the planet,
some of which he recognizes,
many of which he does not
and none of which represent
a faith he belongs to or practices.
Call me the Atheist minister,
the guy who became ordained because
someone asked him to officiate a wedding
and he said yes,
who believes in the basic goodness
and dignity of every living thing,
who believes not in an afterlife
of heaven or hell,
but of an afterlife in the memory
of those left behind and whose
lives he touched, for better or worse,
the guy who believes, in a nutshell,
that this is it,
and heaven or hell,
heaven and hell
are right here and now, baby,
and that one can be
exchanged for the other
with the right or wrong
kind of practice or with a good
or a bad kind of luck.
His ministry or creed:
be good to people and the planet
and all the living things upon it,
and that will go an awful long way.
It’s all we’ve got, in the end.
Filed under Poetry, Religion
Sure, I Will Marry You
Sure, I’ll marry you, if you’d like.
That’s what I told a student of mine
who sent me this message out of the blue
fifteen years or better after he’d been
in my classroom reading some Shakespeare,
saying he had asked his girlfriend,
who was also a student of mine
fifteen years ago, to get hitched,
and for some reason, they thought
their high school English teacher
would be the perfect guy for the job.
Will you marry us, he said,
and I said, sure, I will marry you.
I was honored and happy.
I didn’t have a certificate to marry anyone
so I got on the internet and
in five minutes I was ordained
as a minister in the Universal Life Church.
I was pretty pleased with myself.
I’m not religious any more
but the Universal Life Church makes
no demand and sets no standard
for any particular flavor or level
of religiosity, no dogma to follow,
inclusive of even the Agnostic and Atheist.
Well, that’s my kind of church, I thought,
as I ordered up my legal certificate
to certify my reverential self to the State
and to the world.
I told my former students
that I wouldn’t be talking about Jesus
and they were all right by that.
Despite my lack of religion,
despite the fact that it’s probably
been thirty years since I last said a prayer,
I think of myself, still, in spiritual terms,
think there is a big difference between
spirituality and religion, and find much
in the world and in life to be reverential
and even worshipful about. So
I find myself pretty darn excited now
to be a man of the cloth, of some kind of cloth;
hell yeah, I’m now a reverend, and if you ask me
to marry you or bury you or make a blessing
of some kind, I’ll do my level best
to bring some thought, some levity,
some seriousness, and gobs of respect
to the occasion, because that’s what you deserve.
That’s what we all deserve.
Reverend Michael Anthony Jarmer