On Christmas, For Karen

Full of grace!Full of grace. Full of grace... !

Mother, who this day brought us Our Love and our Redeemer Take into your care a mother like yourself, Our much loved, so-loved Karen. Honor her for her self-sacrifice Who gave her life for us And especially for me She gave up too much art So dear to her for mine She did not count on dying first But left so much she longed to do unfinished.

Please embrace her and comfort her And speak to her with love Remind her of her words of you As she watched “The Passion,” Scrubbing harder with her tears The dearest blood of your dear Son. And how she loved your “Magnificat.”

Please, Good Lady, Mother, Speak to her with tender love As for ages you have been known to do, Take her by the hand to those she loves, John Paul the Second, Father Richard, Irving, Bill, Clare, Avery and Eunice, And, God willing that he’s there, Oskar Kokoschka, who called her “My little darling Karen,” and singled out Her talent and her promise for all to hear.

Take her, too, to all the others whom she loved. Sts. Thomas, Teresa, John o’ the Cross, And John of the Apocalypse, T.S. Eliot, Rilke, Dostoevsky, And all of those with whom she long communed. Take her around, dear Mother, honor Her self-sacrifice.

If Heaven is a conversation, dearest Hostess, Take her kindly where she will be happiest – For her, that is, where she can learn the most. Shepherd her, protect her, But do not think she is too shy– Give her your smile and let her go her way.

Published in First Things Online January 13, 2010