Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Celebration of St. Laurence O'Toole, Day II: Larry's Poem

My brother Larry was certainly named after the right Saint(s). For whether it was the third century martyr St. Laurence (who, when ordered to bring back the churches treasures which he sold, brought back the blind, the lame and the poor instead) or St. Laurence O'Toole said to be the most generous and approachable soul in Ireland, my brother fits right in. Written some time ago, "The Secret" still rings true - only my brother is now a little closer on the road to his namesakes.

The Secret of Easter (Capturing your Friendship)

Only during Lent
could I capture a friendship
so sure in searching

Larry O'Toole, ND GraduationAs it is hard to make that journey
from suburban security to possession-less Calvary
so it is hard to write of you, Larry ...
False flattery finds no ear
and noisy nostalgia breaks no new ground
Your trip is true
and Truth is the Way
my words must follow
flowing stumbling, humbled, but real

Only during Lent
could I capture a friendship
so sure in searching

On the two paths of poverty you go by
the first is symbolized and made flesh
By your daily offering yourself up as sacrifice
to your assigned mob of local eighth graders
loosely defined as your "class"

But modern day teens (no matter how rich or poor)
Often come equipped with video brains
and are programmed with remote control souls
plugged into pagan channels
Witness as you will, they wish not Wisdom
and you wonder if such low ratings are a waste
of your vocation and your time

Yet, brother, do you not wonder
if there is one among them
Who (like me), seeks to know you as you are
But, unlike a Litos, lacks the peer-less courage
only to study her books and teacher from afar

A pilgrim prophet is perhaps not meant to preach
in any place for more than a few years
but every grain of Truth surely finds root
if only in a few unsuspecting ears

Only during Lent
could I capture a friendship
so God-like in giving

On the other hand
Your chosen yolk of charity
is symbolized in myself
your drifter dreamer brother
and his family ever growing
numerically, if not spiritually

You give us
What others are afraid to admit
we need
Cases of baked-beans, worth months of lunches
Born-again socks, Convert concert t-shirts
and on Easter, my kids smiled again
not from their cards or candy
but from your disposable diapers

Time after time I stumble
presumptuously forsaken
and time after time you pick me up
Relentless but gentle
never refusing me in my need

Sometimes, Larry, I lose the will to continue
I lose the courage to ask
I lose the humility to beg
But when I come to my senses, you
like our Lord
never refuse me something good
Larry O'Toole with baby Gary O'TooleYou had four dollars
EXACTLY the sum
of the smallest
package of Pampers
Not enough money
to carry us through
another lean week
but enough
for that day

Perhaps that is your secret
yours and His
To give only what one needs ...
"Taking only what you need
is the only way
you will be happy
Anything beyond that
will make you fat
or at least unfit
to travel His path"

Only during Lent
could I capture a friendship
so happy in hoping

But as I now travel that path, Larry
I see you somewhere up ahead
in the distance
And a far greater need arises
than you've ever satisfied before
The Need
to give something back

And again, it is hard
to give something back
to someone
who takes only what they need
Of clothes, you claim you have enough
While money is only returned
and checks remained uncashed

Fortunately, with His help
I have found something I can give
even you
Something you CAN'T return
for I have only borrowed it myself

In appreciation
for the lesson of Lent
I give to you, Larry
The secret of Easter
a cool breeze and a gentle rain
a warming sun and an ample shade
The Season of Resurrection
The Season of Loving ...
... He let me borrow His breeze
many risings ago
but I've kept it
until now
that I've found a friend
not afraid
to catch the Wind

The Wind ...
and it is still full of miracles, Larry,
and though no one knows
which way it blows
it always goes
in the direction of a Dream
always gathering force
on the day of Pentecost
always growing still
on the night of His birth
always blowing Hope
in the season of His glory ...

And now
When I feel the Breeze
you are with me always, Larry
to the end of the rainbow
And when He gives me
His daily Bread
Your friendship blows inside me
a part of that dream

And when I kiss Jeanette
and hug John and Gary
your Breeze becomes a whirlwind
that surrounds and warms our hearts

And when I think of you (and smile)
You are now the cool summer breeze
that holds an endless sunset
through a timeless summer night ...

Until one day
you too have come
to the end
of His road

And suddenly
All the things you have ever given
us and others
rise up from the dust
and dance before your eyes
and in another blink
drop at your feet
multiplied a hundred fold

And next
all the poor of the earth
come to you
And you are able
to satisfy them all
giving them only
what they need
'til with the last
you finally share
half of your shirt

Larry with Grandma RitaThe OTHER half
of course
you try to give
to ME ...
"It's too small for you, Tom
But maybe it will fit Gary"

Only THIS time
you turn to find
that it is Christ
who has extended
His hand first

Only during Lent
could I capture a friendship
so loyal in loving

to Larry
Happy 25th Birthday
May 7, 1987

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