Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sleeping in Church

Pappy posted about the topic of sleeping
in church last week and it reminded me
of a conversation I had with my dear 93
year old grandfather, who passed away
last year. We were chatting and he asked
me if I remembered going to church with
him, when I was a little girl. I did, indeed,
remember and had fond memories of
sitting, curled up next to him in the pew.
I was inspired, a few years back, to write
this poem as a tribute.

Indian Church, painting by Emily Carr, 1929

First Brethren Church, 1959

The steeple bells are silent
and all now assembled.
Backwards in the pew,
I scan the parishioners.

Men are tall dark trees.
Ladies in plumed hats, tropical birds.
One, with red lipstick, a parrot.

Sun kaleidoscopes through stained glass.
I wonder at the windows in revered worship;
torch, harp, and Jesus the Shepherd.

I trace the carved chairs at the altar.
The pattern of my eyes
are mirrored in their wooden backs.

Nodding head slumps to Grandpa's knee;
a prized butterscotch lifesaver
sticks in the palm of my hand.

Suddenly awake; seats creak
as the forest groans to its feet.
Trees and birds sing out in unison.
So it ever shall be! World without end. Amen. Amen.


  1. Willow, a very loving tribute. Thanks for sharing and for the Arte y Pico Award - what a wonderful surprise.

  2. David, it was my pleasure. Your blog and artwork are fabulous!

  3. What a beautiful poem. Your imagery is vivid and exquisite. I felt I was right there with you seeing it through the eyes of a child. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I just love this. How precious, what sweet memories you have.

  5. Thanks for you kind comment, MG :)

  6. Your poem is a touching tribute to a fond memory you have of your grandfather, Willow.
    How lucky you were to have him for so many years!

  7. Oh finally posted it! It's my favorite.

  8. Great imagery. Now that wasn't hard was it. Glad you are sharing. It would appear I'm not the only one. Precious memories. Pappy

  9. Alex, thank you! You are so sweet. I've been enjoying your blog also.

  10. Pappy, well, it was harder than you think. It's very scary to put your poetry out there...well, maybe not YOUR poetry...but it was hard for me.

    Thanks for your kind words. :)

  11. Just got back in town this evening and found this lovely poem! Really beautiful, Willow!

  12. Willow... this is such a special gift to honour the memory of your grandfather. Truly beautiful and evocative. Have a very blessed Sunday.

  13. Willow, your poem brings back Sunday morning memories from long ago. I remember the times the congregation would be singing a hymn and I couldn't stop myself from turning to see who that was whose voice was soooooo off key. Also, I loved to watch peoples head droop and then jerk as they fell sleep. Hmmmm....I've done the same thing myself more than once.

  14. a very nice poem it is, willow! this so takes me back to my little indiana church growing up. my grandpa gave me butterscotch lifesavers as well!

  15. Julie, this particular church was in the little town of Burlington, IN. So, you are a fellow Hoosier! :)

  16. Stevie, when my sisters and I were older, it was very hard sometimes not to completely burst out laughing at some church goers. I have fun memories of shaking in silent laughter and holding my breath until I turned purple.

  17. Wonderful--and the ending is exquisite. I love the butterscotch lifesaver.

  18. Nicely written....and a great memory for you. Blessings.

  19. I love it!! You know that is so funny. My grandpa is a minister, and he's retired now, only on special occasions will he do the occasional sermon. But I grew up in this little church in the little town that I am from, and not only does grandpa fall asleep when someone else does a sermon, but when I was little I would lay down on those hard pews and fall asleep between both my grandparents, and grandpa would always carry peppermints for me in his pockets. A lot of fond memories. I love this post, thank you!!

  20. Em, sounds like your church memories are very similar to mine! :)

  21. How did I miss this earlier?

    This piece is so evocative. I feel as though I'm sitting in the next pew.
    I love the lady with the red lipstick and the parrot.

    Lovely wording of "Sun kaleidoscopes" through stained glass. It epitomizes the effect perfectly.

    You're hiding your own light under a bushel. Let it out more often!


  22. Kat, thank you SO much! I love your poetry, so coming from you, this is truly a huge compliment. I will have to be brave and pull out a few more.

  23. That is so wonderful Willow.

    It brings to mind my own grandad... I can almost smell his tobacco and the wooliness of his cardigan.

  24. I have difficulty with poetry except some of the greats, but Emily Carr is like a national icon in Canada, so much so that we tend to ignore her. It's nice to see an American showing her work.

  25. Your imagery is excellent. That is a fabulous poem.

    I can close my eyes and see everything and hear everything.

    I went to a small country church when I was a child. No AC. In the summer, with the windows open, I can still hear the droning of the Cicadas outside, and the soft Umphh from the 'trees' inside when a sharp elbow interrupted the a overly-loud Zzzzzzs.

    Nice tribute to your Granddad.
    Well done.

    Come visit anytime,
    Troy and Martha

  26. Troy and Martha, you are too nice! Thank you so much for your kinds comments on my poem. Hope to see you back here at the Manor soon. :)


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)