I recently took a solitary week-long writing retreat to Goodhart, on Northern Lake Michigan. My wife and other family members eventually joined me for Thanksgiving. I was occasionally lonely before they arrived – thank God for WiFi in remote locations and National Public Radio! – but I also enjoyed the solitude and wrote productively during my retreat. This week I am posting one of several poems I wrote while in Goodhart. This poem stems from a trip to Italy, from which my wife and I have only recently returned. While in Italy I did, indeed, have the experience described in this poem, and the only thing to which I can attribute my reaction is the power of the story being told. See Luke 23:32-43.

In the lower basilica of Assisi 
a fresco shows Jesus on the cross
between two thieves. 

I asked my wife -
long fallen away from her Catholic past -
if she knew why one thief wore a halo,
while the other's face was hidden.
“Because the thief with the halo believed”
she replied, “and Jesus told him, Tonight
you will be with me in Heaven.”
And I found myself choking on emotion,
and holding back unbidden tears.

(Goodhart Michigan, November 2022)

Two views of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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A New Poem Each Monday!

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved