Church of the Holy Pajamas


I am missing one of my tribes this morning. Many of my fellow congregants at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover are on the annual retreat at Cape Cod, I can’t be with them, and there is no worship service scheduled for this morning. It is a perfect late spring morning here, and thus a perfect Sunday Morning for some languid contemplation at the “Church of the Holy Pajamas.”

For such Sunday morning contemplations I often begin with the poem by Wallace Stevens “Sunday Morning” (1915). I reproduce here the first two stanzas only, to give you the gist.

I

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among the water–lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.

II

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
She she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself;
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.

The poem goes on to ask some bigger, deeper questions of our time “upon this earth,” or “in this form.” But of a late spring Sunday morning, in the spirit of the first two stanzas, it is sufficient to ask these. What find you, in your day, in the “comforts of the sun” or “[i]n any balm or beauty of the earth,” that is “to be cherished like the thought of heaven?”

About Richard Hudak

I am Senior Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and I have been a practitioner of Anusara™ yoga. I have completed 200 hours of teacher training within its diaspora community, consistent with its philosophy and alignment principles.
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4 Responses to Church of the Holy Pajamas

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