Not a thousand tongues singing this morning,
but enough to fill up the little space,
Main Post Chapel of the Presidio,
lovely, if only temporary home
for the gathered, this young body of Christ,
new church which soon will need someplace bigger.
Attending with friends, themselves becoming
members this service, I want to follow
like one who has relinquished everything,
but struggle just to get the hymns right, or
understand the passage from Luke’s gospel.
How to preach with so much that’s beautiful
around us? Sunlight heating the sandstone,
red brick of the military buildings
stately and from another century,
Golden Gate in the distance, those orange altars,
the bay beyond with its long, silver wings
and perfect bursts of plant life everywhere—
I saw these things just walking from the car.
The pastor is a man of faith indeed,
attempting exegesis in the midst of this.
I try to resist as they go forward,
focus on the chancel rail they walk toward.
But as they raise their hands to take the pledge,
my eyes seize the motion just below
the sanctuary beams. Shadows of eucalyptus
or transplanted cypress pass over
a lone panel of stained glass like river
water across smooth, prismatic rock,
dimpling with light an androgynous saint,
animate, zealous for the cause, hungry
to cheer the tired ones, heal the invalids,
and the standing lead hobbling to the kingdom.