Sed contra (a poem)

I suppose I will always be suspect to you,
heir as I am to martyred dissent,
beholden to untidy reality no catechism can tame,
gripped by loyalty to bishops and creed
through a second simplicity not simple at all,
a good enough Catholic at best,
in a time when the “best” of so many is enemy of the good.

Still, can I show you my heart?
“No love may be made an excuse from another,”
said our common friend Augustine,
adding that evil is only just a lack.
And so I keep learning to choke the harsh words.
And so I keep trying to listen
to the many loves of my life.

I have listened to my wife the pastor, whom our church cannot see,
to the bruised but still gay reeds she will not break, nor I.
And I listen also to you, my self-confident friend
even when that confidence abrades.

Yes, “charity and truth are one” and this is a fierce grace.
For this is a fierce grace too —
weighing the objections as Aquinas did
on the chance (sed contra) that we have misunderstood,
ready to love my enemies, at risk that they will change my mind,
loving God’s truth enough to welcome it unexpected unbidden.

In them.
In you.
In books.
In life.
In all the messiness.
And is that too not natural law?

Gerald Schlabach
summer-fall 2015

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