Saturday, June 28, 2014

A True Tale & A Racist Confession

First the obvious (if you know me or peruse my Facebook page): I'm a white, heterosexual male. For many, the less obvious confession: I'm racist, sexist, and heterosexist. I'm more than those, too; I am chauvinist and bigoted, broadly construed. I have privilege--not just white privilege. I have good credit, I am considered "able-bodied," I am a US citizen living in the US whose first language is English. Privilege, chauvinism, and bigotry are unintentionally interwoven into the fabric of my thought. Let me give you an example.

I ride Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' (for "elevated train"). I take the Brown Line to the Green Line and then walk to Hyde Park for work and/or school. Navigating these trains was easy to learn, because I am able to see color. These trains are normally quiet, especially on my morning commute when people are traveling alone to work, and caffeine has yet to work its wonders. When I switch to the Green Line in the Loop--downtown Chicago--things are still generally quiet. Because I take the Green Line away from the Loop in the mornings, the train gets emptier and emptier as I approach the Garfield station. Most of the white people get off at Roosevelt or 35th Bronzeville/IIT. The few who remain generally get off at Garfield with me, or Cottage Grove, which is also close to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. But this is simply the backdrop to my confession.

My commute back home tends to feel a little more alive. Some people are traveling with others for meals or events. They are fully awake, so there is more chit chat. I could take a bus to the Red Line, and then take another bus to take me home. This commute would mean less walking (which I love, except during harsh weather) and would often save me 10 or more minutes per commute. But the Red Line, which operates 24 hours a day, stops less than other lines, and is a very central route, tends to be louder than the Brown and Green Line trains. I prefer the quiet, so I am less distracted when I read.

But a few times this week, my commute had some noisome distractions. In neither instance were these people sitting near me or particularly loud. But when I heard their incessant chatting, I was annoyed. I was not only annoyed, but I also judged them. You see, when I hear white, US women without a strong regional sound to their US accent, I don't hear them talking. I hear them chatting. Gossiping. They are materialistic, uneducated, uninteresting, shallow, and petty. Certainly I could never befriend or respect them. I don't think this way about all white women--some of my closest friends are and have always been white women. My mother is a white woman! I am not talking about "the good ones," like you, should the reader be a white woman, or your friend or loved one, should the reader have loved ones who are white women.

Although I am doing nothing overt to harm them, my judgment consists in the intersection of various forms of bigotry. (The following list is in no particular order.) I am sexist, chauvinistically perpetuating (in my own mind) myths about women--they are not as intelligent as men, especially me. I am racist, because I have this judgment particularly about white women. Latinas, black women, African women, Asian women (which includes Israeli, Arab, Russian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and more--Asia is a large continent), none of these women bother me the same way white women do. Race matters, and when it comes to my bigotry, the intersection of whiteness (let's remember white is a race) and femininity or womanhood is something more than just a sum of the two. These thoughts are racist, because I superimpose an image of white femininity onto these women before i know them. Instead of letting them be individuals, I see their race and gender expression (among other identifiers).

Within the category of white women, I ethnicize and nationalize. White British women? White French women? White Australian women? White Russian women? White African women (white people live in Africa)? None of these are the same as white US women.

My bigotry was related to still more things. But this exercise has been less about the various ways I am a chauvinist and bigot, but rather about pointing out the unintentional judgments we all make, especially when we are part of a privileged group. This exercise was also about emphasizing the racial and cultural aspects of White. White or whiteness is not a simply defined race or culture--no racial or cultural identifier is so simply defined. But it is important to realize that race is performed differently, and that which we privileged white people associate as normal or American (US American, actually, because there are two Americas, most of which is inhabited by non-white people outside the USA) is really an expression of whiteness.

Neither is this exercise about promoting racism against white people. Instead, this exercise was about continuing to explore my race and racial consciousness, which I think helps fight racism against the minority races in the US. (Racism against white people exists much less frequently than some white people would care to acknowledge.)

I am challenged to explore my race more from my education more than my miscegenation. Of course, my personal experiences do and should influence my academics, and vice versa, but you don't have to explore whiteness to be a "good white person" who relates with, appreciates, and loves people of other races. But I surely want to promote the exploration of whiteness by white people and people of white heritage (which includes the various colored and raced progeny of miscegenation), because it means becoming aware of chauvinism, bigotry, and privilege. And fighting against and dealing with those three things in reasonable, ethical ways.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Nearly Jargon-Free Easter Reflection Against "Substitutionary Atonement"

Easter isn't easy for someone who doesn't believe in what theologians call "substitutionary atonement." Most Easter-related festivities ("Holy Week") tend to focus on this concept. To cut to the chase and through the jargon, I neither think Jesus died for my sins nor do think Jesus had to die an untimely death.

To continue with simplicity: I disagree with the parts of the Bible that support substitutionary atonement (emphasis on "parts of the Bible," because the Bible does not portray one unifying worldview--"biblical theology" is a myth). I think a God who requires death before forgiveness is a sadistic God. How many times in the Bible does God forgive sins without death (or, for that matter, without a profession of faith)? Consider the story of Jonah for merely one example. Yes, I know my "Romans Road"; Paul says "for the wages of sin is death." Jesus's death does not prevent me from physical death, and if I am going to believe in a God, I am going to believe in one powerful and loving enough that this God is not bound by some wild notion that every sin is reasonably punishable by death.

Although my Easter experiences are continually bombarded with the inculcation of this oppressive belief, I still love the significance of this holiday. Jesus's death is still holy: he was a martyr for his countercultural "Judaism" that, at times, threatened the oppressive Roman regime and its opulence that was constructed on the backs of the poor. (I place "Judaism" in scare quotes, because Jesus's nationality and ethnicity were so wrapped up in his experience of his religion that they were inseparable and not really contained but how we understand Judaism, religion, or faith today. But neither does Judaism, faith, religion, or Israelite-ness really do it justice. However, I do want to emphasize the continuity between Jesus and modern-day Judaism.) That sort of practice and dedication is just  as admirable, as the crucifixion is heinous. The cross reminds me of the evils of capitalism, cultural tyranny and the price of true justice.

Ah, but the price of true (social) justice is also its reward. Jesus died, but then there is the symbol of resurrection. Jesus lives on through those who follow his example. He is not dead, but alive in all movements for good. It would have been better if Jesus had died a natural death, but his untimely death will not be left in vain.

Substitutionary atonement was one way the Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus could understand the death of Jesus. It is not the only way. One can also see Jesus's death as an injustice, and his resurrection as a call to be the resurrection: to continue social justice at all costs. And for that reason, I celebrate Easter and say with may others across the world, regardless of what they mean by the litany:

He is risen.
He is risen, indeed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Attempt at a Wedding Ceremony with Less Privilege


Weddings reek of privilege. They are filled with sexist images and they are, for now, a heterosexual privilege. It was important for my partner and I to have a ceremony that toned down the privilege a bit. Finding one wasn't easy, so I wrote one. Since we are both steeped in Christian imagery, our ceremony still uses a lot of God and biblical references.  I have shared it below.

Invocation

Trevar: Love comes from God. Everyone who truly loves is a child of God. Let us honor God in this ceremony of love.

Dear Friends, we have come together to share love and joy. God gives human love. Through that love, two persons come to know each other with mutual care and companionship. God gives joy. Through that joy, they may share their new life with others as Jesus shared new wine at the wedding in Cana. With your love and prayers, we are drinking that new wine today.

In this welcome and invocation, Sherry and I want to share a sorrow hidden within our love. Although love is a thing to celebrate, many adults are prohibited from such celebrations. Two consenting adults who love and commit to each other should be allowed to join themselves and their families in such a happy celebration as this. 

Love comes from God. Everyone who truly loves is a child of God. Sherry now lights a candle that burns with our love not only for each other, but also for our desire for justice, for equality, and for love itself.

And now, as we pray, I am going to read a prayer a friend wrote for this occasion.

Loving God

Thank you for the love that you have created between Sherry and Trevar. As we look on this love, we see your hand in its intricate design, its deep formation. We look at them loving each other  and we experience the kind of divine wonder we feel when we behold natural beauty: a sunset  over the mountains, the expanse of the ocean, a new song by the neighborhood mockingbird. We  are brought to our knees by the magnificence of it, and we are grateful.  In seeing how Sherry and Trevar love each other, we are reminded of your complete love for us.  The way you give to us abundantly, joyfully. The way you laugh when we laugh and cry when we  cry. The way you indulge our need for second chances, and third ones. You love us in our  brokenness. You love us in our foolishness. You love us like crazy.  We praise you God, that Sherry and Trevar, by loving each other like you love us, have called us  back into your embrace. We feel at home here. We feel at peace. We feel loved. May the home that Sherry and Trevar build together always be one that radiates the peace and  love that they feel in this moment. May their marriage surprise them with fresh joy and  encourage them with lasting hope. And may their love, so vibrant now, grow ever more so day by love-filled day. God in your mercy, Hear my prayer. Amen.

Declaration of Intent 

Rev. Ingram: Before all present, I ask you to affirm your willingness to enter this covenant of marriage and to share all the joys and sorrows of this new relationship, whatever the future may hold.

Trevar, will you enter into the covenant of marriage with my daughter, and will you love her faithfully as long as you both shall live?

Trevar: I will

Sherry, will you enter into the covenant of marriage with Trevar, and will you love him faithfully as long as you both shall live?

Sherry: I will.

Addressing congregation:

Dear friends gathered today, do you pledge your support and encouragement to the covenant commitment that Sherry and Trevar are making together? If so, please say, "We do."

Congregation: We do.

Exchange of Vows

With everyone's intentions declared, I invite Sherry and Trevar to exchange their written vows.

Trevar: My dearest Sherry Rose, you know I don't like to make things simple, and these vows are no different. I am leery of making promises, because I make mistakes, and I am inconsistent. But there so much I want to promise you. So much I want to promise you, but so many things that could happen that could change me, or change you, or change us. I cannot promise consistency in myself or in our relationship, but I can promise you that I love you. And, 'I love you' is a vow in and of itself: a vow to try, to work to make things work despite our mistakes and struggles, to experiment on new things when life needs to change, to live as if I am not an independent person, but partaking in interdependence with you. I vow to try, Sherry Roselyn Ingram. I vow to try to honor the name that we will share as we share our lives together. I love you, and that's a promise.

Sherry: Trevar, who would have known that on this day exactly seven years ago, when you walked into my office to interview for a job, that we would be standing here, committing our lives to each other? I remember you being the quiet guy who overwhelmed me with his intellect. I recall you saying that you were intimidated by me because I was your supervisor's supervisor. I am so glad that we moved past that and capitalized on moments to get to know each other. I guess you can say that we've gotten some practice in being married, as we played a married couple during two murder-mystery dinners. We foreshadowed that we would live in Chicago by singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" during a Residence Life talent show. From our hike in Birmingham at the waterfall, which is when I started falling for you, during the time that I was physically sick while visiting you (and you took great care of me), to our road trip and Caribbean cruise, through our long-distance relationship, and our individual moves to Chicago, it delights me that it's you who has been a part of my life, and I promise from this day forward, that you will never walk alone. You are my everything. You make me feel loved, wanted, secure, heard, adored, beautiful, and cared for, not only with your words, but in your actions. I love your passion for social justice causes, equality, your nonjudgmental attitude, your ability to see the good in everyone, your humor, how comfortable I am around you, and the things you say when you say nothing at all. I've grown to love Futurama, and I promise to watch episodes with you for days to come. In turn, I hope you don't become too mad at President Fitzgerald Grant and stop watching Scandal with me. Although it embarrasses me sometimes, I love that you are not ashamed to proclaim your love for me with your public gestures. It shows me how much you really care. Thanks for putting up with my Type A personality and my perfectionist ways, especially during the wedding planning process. In our hearts, we already feel married and today marks the day when we become official partners for life. I promise that in good times, I'm going to celebrate with you. In sad times, I'm going to cry with you. And in uncertain times, I'm going to hold you. I give you my heart. My heart will be your shelter, and my arms will be your home. Loving someone is a choice, and in front of family and friends, I am declaring that I am choosing to love you, unconditionally, today and always. I love you.

Exchange of Rings

To seal the vows just exchanged, you shall now exchange rings. 

Trevar, please place the ring on your beloved's finger and repeat after me: "Let this ring around your finger be as my love around your heart."

Sherry, please place the ring on your beloved's finger and repeat after me: "Let this ring around your finger be as my love around your heart."

Hand Fasting

Trevar, take Sherry's right hand into your right hand. You have blessed each other and everyone here today with the blessings you have received. Your love overflows into the display of love that we enjoy in this ceremony and the food and fun of the reception tomorrow. May your commitments to each other stand forever, and may your love continually overflow and bless those around you. 

Sherry, take Trevar's left hand into your left hand. May your hands with the rings upon them continually work together to show love unto others. And may your left hands together not even know what your right hands are doing, as Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount.

Wrap the tie around the joined hands.

With the seals of love upon your hands, we emphasize this union in the fasting of your hands, which represents how firmly fixed you two are to each other. As your hands are joined, so are your whole beings. Let the bind never be cut asunder.

The knot is not tied by any human material, but by your public vows of love in this place. You hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union. Your union will not always be easy, so keep the knot between your hearts faster than the tie that now binds your hands.

Communion

As the final symbol of your union, you two will now join in remembering how Jesus personified sacrifice and unity in his life and death.

As you eat of this bread, think not only of Jesus's body, broken for all, but also of the bread left over when Jesus fed the multitude. Like Jesus, if you two give yourselves to each other and together give yourselves to those around you, there will always and miraculously be more and more to give.

As you drink of this chalice give to Trevar by his grandfather, think of how Jesus wanted his followers to be one as he was one with God. As you drink of the cup, you not only strive for unity with God and with each other, but with unity of all who have been, are, and will be invited to drink of this cup. Be one as Jesus and God are one, as all humanity is one, and as two adults who love each other should be one.

Pronouncement of Marriage

It is with great pleasure that I pronounce before God and everyone here today that you are now married: woman and husband, man and wife. Please place a final seal upon your union with a kiss.

The kiss.

Behold, give thanks, and, please, remain in your seats, as my daughter and son-in-law, Trevar and Sherry Simmons, recess through the aisle.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In Which I Vulnerably Share Narratives Of My Chicago Life And Quote Robert Frost

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live."
-Joan Didion, The White Album
I'm unemployed.

I left my job in Birmingham, Alabama, because I will be a student in Chicago in late September. I wanted to leave my employer in a good spot, which meant I needed to leave before August and give them time to hire someone new. That may not have been the best plan for my bank account, but I think it was a good decision.

Now I live in Chicago. I had a great lead on an OK-job that didn't pan out for some reason. As a result, I am living with my fiancée. I adore living with her. I am playing "househusband," which I also enjoy. I get to do little things around the house for my beautiful breadwinner. I have never had so much time to cook. I even got to cook for a dinner party we hosted with her staff. It was terribly fun.

But I am not bringing in any money. Instead, I am helping plan an expensive wedding, booking trips to see our families, and preparing to go to a school where some of my fellow students thought about going to Harvard not because it might be a better school, but because it is cheaper. I am contributing to the household, but I do not feel like I am contributing enough.

I spend my days applying for jobs and looking at apartments. Since I hadn't planned to move in with my fiancée, I am not on the lease. As a result, I need to move out soon or my fiancée will be breaking her lease. At first, I only applied for jobs in higher education. After all, I've worked at colleges for the past eight years. I was in admissions in my undergrad days, residence life during grad school and as a professional, and I've taught this past year as a second job. I received few interviews and even fewer call backs.

Now I'm applying to everything in sight. I don't expect to hear from Starbucks, although I have been a successful barista. I don't expect to hear from Target, Party City, Office Depot, Chase Bank, or Little Caesar's. Sure, I have experience from working as a cashier and bookkeeper at a grocery store for six years, but I'm overqualified. I don't always tell these places I have two masters degrees, but I suspect they don't expect me to be a long-term employee if they know or not. I would try persuade them differently--I want a job to get me through the next two years of school--but some of these places don't accept cover letters giving additional information. Instead, they require only specific information submitted over the internet--privileged applicants only--and 45 minutes to 1.5 hours of your time taking an assessment to see if you are employee material.

I tell myself a number of narratives to attempt making sense of my continued unemployment. My go-to narrative suspects I am doing something wrong. I look over my cover letters and résumé, make changes, send them off, and then look over them again to make more changes before sending them off to more people. I have been personalizing my cover letters more than ever, which is exhausting. I am putting myself into 4-5 cover letters or more before I start making lunch for Sherry and myself. I feel like I have less and less to give. I don't always feel like my cup runneth over, so I want to conserve what I have in that cup, lest it runneth dry or stop runnething all together.

When I go through this narrative, I hear my last counselor's voice in my head: "So, because nobody has hired you, you're doing something wrong?" When I don't immediately answer, "Yes," I blame "the system." If someone as educated and qualified as I am cannot find a job, who can? I ask this question not just out of pride, (although certainly out of pride), but also out of a concern for social justice. I have been applying for jobs since the beginning of March. If I cannot find a job, then thousands of hard-working, qualified, educated people cannot find jobs. Now take out the "educated" part and imagine how many of them also cannot find jobs. Maybe add "sick," "in debt," "awkward," "differently abled," or "oppressed." I find myself getting exhausted and depressed with the rejection, how much more so a less-reflective person who doesn't have conversations with a past counselor in their head? (I recommend seeing a counselor so you can stop seeing said counselor, but continue having conversations with her or him.) Obviously there is something wrong with the system. According to some interpretations, that problem is at one and the same time that US Americans are "lazy and unemployed" and there aren't enough jobs for these lazy people who don't want to work. Also, "the Mexicans" and "Al Qaeda."

I can tell myself the broken-system narrative for a while. I enjoy it much more than the one where I am doing something wrong or subpar. Plus, the narrative contains truths that make me feel righteous and rebellious, two things quite far from reality. That narrative contains truth, too, which is helpful when pointing fingers at the system or at other oppressive narratives, like the Republican straw man I created at the end of the previous paragraph. Or there is the Christian straw woman who constantly tells me God wants me to be unemployed, either because the "right" opportunity will come along at the "right" time (even though the right time was about four weeks ago) or because God is giving me what I need in order to teach something (apparently God can't think of a better way to teach me a lesson).

If I make it past my self-righteous narrative about the broken system, I tell myself the anti-narrative narrative. The anti-narrative is the narrative that says no story can make sense of what is happening. Rather, it is just happening. Some things just happen: cause and effect, not a cute story and effect. I am unemployed, because I quit my job and have not received a new one. It sucks, and I am working to change that reality for the future, but I cannot change it for the past or present. God is not preventing me from getting jobs due to some punishing, rewarding, or didactic reason. The system, although broken, did not cause or prevent my employment. Perhaps I could do things better, but I am doing nothing wrong or subpar. I'm simply unemployed. No rhyme, no ultimate reason, no narrative with a pretty-little bow. Although, perhaps,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"
After all, I am partial to self-righteous narratives.

What narratives would you tell yourself in this situation? A common bromide or something more intricate?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On Love and God and Ambiguity


In a phone interview the other week, I was asked how I work with ambiguity. Ever the nerd, I began my response by saying something quite brief about postmodernism and then delving into ambiguity and my professional life, since that was the reason for their question.

Even if one has progressed far in divine things, one is never nearer the truth than when one understands that those things still remain to be discovered. He who believes he has attained the goal, far from finding what he seeks, falls by the wayside.
--St. Leo the Great, quoted in Peter Rollins, How (Not) To Speak Of God

After reading the above words, I thought about how this statement is true not just in divine things, but in things in general, if the two are discernibly or meaningful separate. This morning I think especially of love, which is certainly a divine thing if not the divine thing. I don't think love or God is something we can entirely attain and, as St. Leo the Great says, remains in ambiguity as much as, if not more than, it is understood and felt. 

Love and God are areas in which we must always seek for more understanding from new experiences, create more meaning in community and solidarity, and give away all that we know and learn. The more we attain, the less we can retain as the newness gives way to complete and utter newness of comprehension and experience as much as it builds on that which came before. Love and God are not impossible in this sense, but always ambiguous and never fully achieved. There is always more understanding, new experiences, meaningful and innovative creations, and leftover bread and fish when all is given away for in order to find ourselves, we must lose ourselves. And what is the pursuit of God and love if not the pursuit of ourselves, of ipseity and community, if there is a discernible or meaningful difference between the two?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Futurama's Knight of Faith ... Against W. K. Clifford & Derrida?

You can't lose hope when it's hopeless. You gotta hope more, then put your fingers in your ears and go, "Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!... "
- Philip J. Fry
Futurama channeled Kierkegaard's knight of faith in this quote. The knight of faith has faith for the impossible, has faith when there should be no faith. This knight hopes for that which is hopeless--life from something dead, love from the unrequited, and sense and reality from the nonsensical. No matter how progressive and reasonable your faith/religion/spirituality is, at some level you are not only putting your fingers in your ears, but also screaming against contradicting noise. We are the knight of faith and the child incessantly saying, "I'm not listening!"

The difference--OK, a difference--between Kierkegaard and Futurama is that Kierkegaard romanticizes this hope against hope by calling it a knight. Kierkegaard says it is admirable to cover up your ears and refuse to listen to reason or any reasonable, alternative belief. Futurama appears to make fun of it, pointing out the childish ridiculousness of it. But in the episode, Fry's hope wins out. Futurama was very careful to ridicule the faith while also saying that either coincidence or providence could award the knight of faith (in the episode, coincidence and providence work together, perhaps).

Kierkegaard ennobles faith and Futurama remains conspicuously ambiguous. W. K. Clifford calls it unethical, saying that "sincerity of conviction" isn't enough. For Clifford, we need to have "evidence" and some sort of reason to believe. And here comes an essential question: Is reason contrary to faith and vice versa?

On the hand, I must say yes. Faith steps in where reason cannot tread. Yet, many "faith journeys" are guided and influenced by reason, at least, on some level. Once one takes that "leap of faith," reason can guide the rest of belief. It seems, reason and faith are not completely contrary.

I want to say one is more primary than the other. Of course, to say so would be more of desire than reason. And yet, to deny it due to reason would be to assume the primacy of reason. I assume the primacy of reason--I have faith in reason, because I assume it is a valid basis for belief formation.

Enter deconstruction. Of course, Trevar mentioned deconstruction. Deconstruction uses reason against itself. On the one hand we have hope against hope and, on the other, reason against reason. With deconstruction, I don't get rid of reason, but rather realize its limitations. I understand reason has boundaries. I understand faith is, at is base, unreasonable and, possibly--nay, likely--ridiculous. 

But faith is inevitable. Reason is, too, even though I think some people have managed to avoid it. We all take faith at different points and reason at different points. Perhaps it is more reasonable to shoo faith to certain places, but only because I have faith that this sort of reason is right, that there are levels of reasonable investigation into faith and reason that are responsible and levels that are irresponsible, like a diet version of Clifford's view, because it is healthier for you. 

In the end, it is health that I wish for, not right and wrong--love over impossibly definable veracity.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why We Read, Write, And Teach Literature


One of my adult students recently lost his grandmother. The first night he returned to class, I overheard him talking to another student about his time in the hospital. He said that in his grandmother's last moments, all he could think about was the carriage ride in Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death." Thinking about that poem helped him cope with those last moments.

That is why we read, write, and teach literature. It doesn't always help, and the same literature isn't going to help all of us. Reading, writing, and teaching isn't going to make anything better or lighten something heavy, but it may help us cope as we carry a burden--either helping us make meaning where there is none or live with meaninglessness. As Joan Didion writes, "[For Ramon Novarro,] Writing had helped him, he said, to 'reflect on experience and see what it means.' [...] but writing has not yet helped me to see what it means"(48, The White Album).

For me, in personal tragedy or in larger tragedies such as the explosions in Boston today, I often look for help in the opening lines of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking:
Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.
For my student, in the death of his grandmother, it was "Because I could not stop for Death."

Whether movie, television, music, writing, paintings, video game, or other art or "text," what has it been that has helped you?

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove –
He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too, 

For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –  

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –  

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –  

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
 first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –