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'After the Flare and Flame': an ordination poem

Fr Joseph A. Brown, SJ offers a poetic reflection on the recent ordination of Fr Ajani Gibson and eight of his fellow Midwest Jesuits.

Dedicated and offered as a gift to a group of men bringing their light into an all-too-shadowy world.

For the ordination of newly ordained priests: Ajani Gibson (for the Archdiocese of New Orleans); and for the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus: Thomas Bambrick; Jeffrey Dorr; Garrett Gundlach; Robert Karle; Aaron Malnick; Hung T. Nguyen; Trevor Rainwater; and Jeffrey Sullivan.

The Road to Emmaus: Luke 24: 13 -32

We knew it no longer mattered

                                                        how we stumbled

away from the gushing women


our brothers who were no longer ashamed

to weep

If we walked twice the seven miles to home

we would

Anything to exhaust the rage

                                                          before we were crushed

and as empty as he said he found the cave

Burning everywhere    our eyes   our throats

our lungs

                       my skin was dry enough to peel

with the merest touch


What stoked this fire   was fear

Neither of us noticed

                                                or cared

to see the stranger nearly upon us

His first words startled me

reawakening the rage that had


settled like ashes  after the flare and flame

The confrontation took us both into a howling

threatening storm of words

                                                               Until he twisted us free

of the knots that had strangled us  these last

fearful days

How could we be blind


could we not hear the voice that will now

forever  hold us  still

                                            Our hunger shifted

from needing  protective enveloping dark

into the memory of his mother

handing us bread so many nights

When he broke the bread

                                                   he brought us

from the tomb where we had cowered

And now we can do

                                            as he had done

and will always do

give that bread to all

-- Luke

(originally published on Sankofa Muse, the blog of Fr Joseph A. Brown, SJ)
“After the Flare and Flame”
After the Flare and Flame The Road to Emmaus: Luke 24: 13 -32 We knew it no longer mattered ...

Joseph A. Brown, SJ, Ph.D. is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois and a Catholic priest. He currently teaches Africana studies at SIU Carbondale. He presents frequently at the Lyke Conference and is the author of "Accidental Grace" (1986), "A Retreat with Thea Bowman and Bede Abram: Leaning on the Lord" (1997), "To Stand on the Rock: Meditations on Black Catholic Identity" (1996), "Sweet, Sweet Spirit: Prayer Services in the Black Catholic Tradition" (2006), and "The Sun Whispers, Wait: New and Collected Poems" (2009).

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