Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day: Those Wintry Sundays

"Those Wintry Sundays" is still one of my favorite poems after all these years from Robert Hayden. 

To all dads,

from Peter and Heather: 

Happy Father's Day! 

                             Those Wintery Sundays

                                   By Robert Hayden

“Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?”


Bobcat said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely poem. And Happy Father's Day!

Elaina said...

Thank you, Peter, for sharing this poem, which, although bittersweet, is such a profound meditation on the human condition, really, and, in that sense, soars with the great literature of Rome and Greece. A masterpiece, as you were keen enough to perceive and kind enough to share it with us. Thank you, and Happy Father's Day!

Anonymous said...

Wonder what "chronic angers of THAT house" means?

Does he recall the house not too fondly, or was it turmoil constantly?

It was, after all, Sunday,and his father polished his good shoes. I suspect they were going to church.

He describes the wood starting to burn accurately.
He didn't have to polish his own shoes on a Saturday night.
Did he have to work a lot at the house/farm? Chop wood, carry it? Draw water, carry it? Fix leaky roof?

Yes, thanks for sharing Peter.

I recall the same noises as a child of wood starting to burn. I also recall my father having a chainsaw jump back on him at the knee. He used my Easter pail (metal back then) and a jar of water to do exercises as he was healing.

Elaina said...


The deep poignancy of this poem lies in the fact that the boy himself knew of "love's austere and lonely offices", just as the father did. Why? The boy loved his father but could not connect with him, because of his fear of the father's anger. The father, too, suffered in that he could only show the boy his love through these gestures of warming the house, etc., because of the chasm he had created between the 2 through his anger. Isnt this, in a larger sense, reflective of the human condition? We are all crippled emotionally in our own ways.

The poem is brilliant. A truly sublime work.

Elaina said...

I am mesmerized by the lines "I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking"

You can feel his fear of the becomes palpable.

Anonymous said...

Trust the bbc

Bobcat said...

OT on the confluence of religion and social justice:

A shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel
In recent weeks, we have watched with horror at the implementation of policies from the Department of Justice regarding the treatment of people migrating to the United States.

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe June 15, 2018

In early May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy resulting in de facto family separation: children are immediately removed from their parents as they are apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And three days ago, the Attorney General also announced a policy reversing protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence. Neither threat of violence is now considered grounds for asylum.

Furthermore — and in response to the ardent opposition from a wide array of faith communities — the officials responsible for these policies have recently used Christian scripture to justify their actions.

To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.

Administration officials have used the Christian text of Paul’s Letter to the Romans — his first and weightiest epistle — to justify their actions. The ethical teachings of Romans 12-16 describe that consecrated Christian life requires the duties of love and hospitality. The commandment in Chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities” is bracketed by preceding and following passages containing the command to “love.”

Earlier verses detail what love looks like:

Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord…extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12: 9-11, 13 NRSV, emphasis added)

Subsequent verses further clarify the centrality of love and its comprehensive nature, stating that all the

commandment[s] are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13: 9-10 NRSV, emphasis added)

We are reminded by Paul that love is the way.

Jesus is our way, our truth, our life. The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence. It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.

Christian sacred texts should never be used to justify policies that oppress or harm children and families.

Those using the Bible to justify these horrific policies, should also read the prophet Isaiah:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10: 1-3 NIV)

The Trump Administration implemented these policies. They have the power to stop these horrific actions. Join me in calling on the Department of Justice, and especially on our fellow United Methodist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to immediately reverse these decisions.

When you reach out, be sure to share with them the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, which uphold the rights of immigrants, oppose family separation, and demand protections for women, children and men from violence.

U.S. Department of Justice
Phone: 202-353-1555
Twitter: @TheJusticeDept

Bobcat said...

OT Part two:

(text transcription to follow)

Bobcat said...

OT part three:

Monday, July 18, 2018

Dear Rev. Boykin and Rev. Wines,

We, the undersigned laity and clergy of the United Methodist Church, issue a formal complaint against
fellow United Methodist layperson Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, by our understanding a lay member of Ashland Place United Methodist Church, in Mobile, AL, and an active participant in Clarendon United Methodist Church, Arlington, VA. While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson, Mr. Sessions’ unique combination of tremendous social/political power, his leading role as a Sunday School teacher and former delegate to General Conference, and the severe and ongoing impact of several of his public, professional actions demand that we, as his siblings in the United Methodist denomination, call for some degree of accountability.

We write to you, Mr. Sessions’ pastors, copying his District Superintendents and Bishops, in the hopes that you will, as members of our connectional system, dig deeply into Mr. Sessions’ advocacy and actions that have led to harm against thousands of vulnerable humans. As members of the United Methodist Church, we deeply hope for a reconciling process that will help this long-time member of our connection step back from his harmful actions and work to repair the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families.

Pursuant to Paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, we hereby charge Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Attorney General of the United States, a professing member and/or active participant of Ashland Place United Methodist Church (Mobile, Alabama) and Clarendon United Methodist Church (Alexandria, Virginia), with the chargeable offenses of:
• Child Abuse (examples: advocacy for and implementation of documented practices that indefinitely separate thousands of young children from their parents; holding thousands of children in mass incarceration facilities with little to no structured educational or socio-emotional support)
• Immorality (examples: the use of violence against children to deter immigration; advocating and supporting the separation of children from their families; refusal of refugee/asylee status to those fleeing gang or sexual violence; oppression of those seeking asylum or attempting to enter the United States with refugee status; directing employees and staff members to kidnap children from their parents)
• Racial discrimination (examples: stopping investigations of police departments charged with racial discrimination; attempting to criminalize Black Lives Matter and other racial justice activist groups; targeting incarceration for those engaged in undocumented border crossings as well as those who present with requests for asylum, with a particular focus on those perceived as Muslim or LatinX)
• Dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church (examples: the misuse of Romans 13 to indicate the necessity of obedience to secular law, which is in stark contrast to Disciplinary commitments to supporting freedom of conscience and resistance to unjust laws)

While other individuals and areas of the federal government are implicated in each of these examples, Mr. Sessions – as a long-term United Methodist in a tremendously powerful, public position – is particularly accountable to us, his church. He is ours, and we are his. As his denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage.

Bobcat said...

OT part four:

Several Bishops and other denominational leaders have spoken out about this matter, urging Methodists to contact Mr. Sessions and for these policies to change, but we believe that the severity of his actions and the harm he is causing to immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylees calls for his church to step into a process to directly engage with him as a part of our community.

We look forward to entering into the just resolution process with Mr. Sessions as we seek to journey with him towards reconciliation and faithful living into the gospel.

In the community of Jesus, the Liberator and Redeemer,

[signed by 640 names]

• Bishop David W. Graves, Alabama-West Florida Conference
• Rev. Debora K Bishop, District Superintendent, Mobile District, Alabama-West Florida Conference
• Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, Virginia Conference
• Rev. Catherine G. Abbot, District Superintendent, Arlington District, Virginia Conference

***A Note on the list of names, titles, and conferences: This complaint grew very quickly, and the authors have done their best to prevent any duplication of names, and to indicate those with clergy standing with the honorific “Rev” before their name. We recognize that there are several who are in pastoral capacities who might not use or have that title, and so for any inconsistency on that matter, we apologize. All such errors are wholly those of Rev. Dave Wright, the primary editor of this complaint.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

The hypocrisy is stunning in its context.

Hillary's video from 2014 where she tells illegals that they can't use their is getting lots of play.

Cops and Politicians.

Imagine trying to survive this job? The UK police fear arresting Islamists for this very reason. This is what happens when politicians get involved in police work:

"“In 1999 I was suspended from the police over an allegation of assault against an Asian male who had beaten his girlfriend in the street.
“It was a night shift and I was crewed with a female probationer. Without backup or assistance, I needed to use CS spray and my baton to control the situation and arrest the man.
“My accuser is a 6ft 4” kick-boxing expert, an alleged enforcer for a local drugs baron. He’s suspected of one murder and has been convicted for various violent offences, including firearms. I am 5ft 6” and weigh 12 stone in all my kit.
“He made a complaint of racially aggravated assault and I was charged and suspended.
“I was told by my division commander, off the record, that the only reason I was being charged was because the police didn’t want to deal with the publicity of acknowledging I acted within the rules for the use of force. In fact, the force paid him £12k in compensation before the case even got to court, during which time my accuser was shot in a drugs feud and I was listed as a suspect. He survived.
“After a four-day trial at Crown Court, it took just 20 minutes for me to be found not guilty. Unanimously.
“I returned to duty broken. I lost my first marriage from the stress of it all.
“When I returned to work I was put on a race and diversity course, implying I had acted with prejudice despite the not-guilty verdict. I was also given a written warning over my conduct during the investigation.”


Anonymous said...

Thank you again for the poem. My father cut trees; chopped, loaded, stacked, and dried wood; and then lit fires in our wood burning furnace to heat our Minnesota home.

Hey Jude said...

I expect, when I was very little, my father lit the fire before he went to work. I remember that he polished my shoes, and taught me how to tie my laces, and then how to tell the time. Later, I remember my mother, or sometimes my grandmother when she was there, lighting the fire, and later still, that sometimes, on returning from school, I laid and lit the fire, but I was not that good at laying it, so one or the other would have to fix and stoke it when they come in from work - there's an art to the poker. I also remember the bliss of our first gas fire, when I was eleven or twelve, along with my mother's excitement at being able to clean out the coal cupboard, and fill it with gardening tools, and other odds and ends. Simple pleasures are the best. These days coal fires are a rare treat, and a luxury - we don't have a coal grate or fire, only radiators and gas fires with imitation coals, which are superfluous as the radiators are sufficient. You can't beat the comfort, or the crackle and sparks from a real coal fire - or make toast on a radiator. I wouldn't want to depend on a coal fire, and paraffin, for heat, but it's nice to reminisce. The coal man, the milk man, the rag and bone man, the gypsies selling pegs and lucky lavender - at least we still have a postman. :)

Polo said...

Peter - That was a touching poem and you have a lovely family. I was blessed with two fathers and I miss them both.

Nic said...

Happy be-lated Father's Day, Peter. You and Heather have beautiful grandchildren.

I spent my summers with my grandmother and aunt on the East Coast. My grandmother had a wood burning stove and an electric stove. My grandfather chopped wood every night and filled the old chicken coop (a fairly large one,) from bottom to top, from back to front with wood for the winter. He cut wood to fill every crevice. I remember waking up in what would have been my mother's bedroom, and I remember touching the "wal"l and feeling the heat radiating from the chimney bricks from the fire burning wood and the waste from the day before. It was a huge contrast to how I usually lived when at home. It was a great learning experience in hind-sight and a bridging of generations.

Something else about my grandmother's kitchen that has always stuck with me was her spice drawer. I would open it and smell it like one would a bouquet of flowers, it smelled that heavenly.

Laura said...

My story may not be as exciting. I just remember my father chopping wood in his blue flannel shirt, rolling tobacco as bits flew away in the wind. He'd say to me "Gotta get those fires going for Mama, so she can warm her feet." Every time, he'd say that.
He'd take a few drags on his hand-rolled cigarette, lift the ax, and chop, hard and always quiet, so quiet, and the crows would scatter, but father always kept his eyes down, intent on his work. "Gotta split some more wood, so Mama can warm her feet". The stars would come out and begin to twinkle, a bat her and there would swoop down, but still, father kept his eyes down, never even looked up to take his few drags here and there. I remember, the smell of his smoke, the smell of hay on his shirt, and how he never looked up, not even when the moon rose, orange sometimes, and full, down in the Carolina dark. Father only looked down at the wood, as he split it, to warm Mama's feet. I remember one night, and watching him closely, and realizing his intentness, his singular focus, the way his eyes never strayed from the wood, never wandered from his task, as odd as it had always seemed to me, was love, love for Mama. This man who worked all day in the fields, loved my Mama, with a quiet tenderness, as he heaved his ax up to split the wood, for her, for her warmth, for her comfort.

This was love.

Elaina said...

Laura, That is a beautiful memory! It is so true that love is found in the simple gestures. Your father sounds like a wonderful man. I was very moved by your story!

Zsuzsanna said...

Lovely post, lovely comments. Happy belated Father's Day, Peter!

Chi Pong said...

My father. Grow many vegetable in garden bok choy. I would gather sticks for bok choy grow up like vine. My mother make noodle in cast iron in big fire! We lay all out on table Chinese celery, carrot, bok choy, many more. What we eat so good. In forest where I find sticks was bear. My father say no you no go too far to get sticks bear in black forest he say. I stay close I too scare.

LuciaD said...

Lovely and sad. I like poetry and my statement analysis studies sometimes remind me of “The Second Coming” by W B Yeats. He was Irish, like you and I :) The quote that always comes back to me is “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”. A terrifying statement, yet we have all felt it, I think.

Andrea S said...

This poem evokes a certain aching rawness, yet somehow rises above that, while leaving the reader actually nostalgic, pondering, recollecting. A true meditation, as someone commented above. It is interesting, also, how nostalgic it has made many posters. Their stories are all lovely.

ima.grandma said...

Peter, I’m so happy to hear about your lovely Fathers Day gift of joy. Rejoice, Hyatt family.

I’m a little envious but I’ll get over it.