With Open Eyes

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    Editor’s note: Sister Pere is gifted with a seeing eye, an understanding heart, and an artist’s pen.

    She is a native New Zealander, and is currently living there with her husband, M. Baden P. Pere, president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.


    If I question, Lord,
    wilt thou know
    that I am merely reaching
    here below?
    If I ask of thee
    patience, please,
    wilt thou yet indulge me, Lord,
    in my need?
    I know one from long ago
    who loved thee
    yet he is remembered most
    doubting thee.
    When I am in doubt, Lord,
    wilt thou know
    it is my love that questions
    here below?
    For inside me, Lord,
    canst thou see
    that my love is strong and true
    unto thee?

    Waiting Room

    We sit,
    six of us,
    and the woman with the child
    knits the minutes
    into squares that she’ll stitch
    into her quilt of time.
    We wait,
    and the silence
    fades slowly around us,
    shadowed softly
    in the cooing
    of the baby at her side.
    We are strangers every one,
    lost among the outdated magazines
    between these sterile walls.
    Our curious but mute stares
    at each newcomer
    reveal an illness
    deeper and more profound
    than any disease of skin or bone.
    I think,
    what if we were the last six humans
    marooned in this room,
    perhaps whirling through space
    beyond earth and moon.
    What then?
    Would one of us break
    the ice between us?
    Would, perhaps, the toothless man
    beside me
    reach a gaunt finger forth
    to offer some touch
    of tenderness
    to the child waving
    tiny fists in the air?
    Or could I look the superior woman
    who faces me
    directly in the eye
    to say with compassion:
    have peace,
    for I love
    and care about you?


    Teaching is not telling,
    for I’ve been told so many times
    by those who’ve never taught.
    And I have heard their telling
    and refused to learn.
    Telling, when you are not so yourself,
    and have no plans to ever be,
    is hypocrisy
    —empty words that are no less
    than an offense to me.
    Teaching, on the other hand,
    is being yourself so completely
    that I see how you are
    and want to join you.
    Teaching is you understanding me
    and liking what I am
    —not what I can become
    by your manipulations,
    but what I am,
    and eternally.

    Boy in a Sleeping Bag

    First he lays it flat along the ground,
    making sure there are no rocks beneath.
    Then, legs together, sliding carefully,
    he inches between its quilted folds,
    aware that any jut of knee
    or elbow will disturb
    the perfect symmetry
    that is his private bed.
    Once in,
    he reaches sleepy fingers
    to tug the awkward zip
    up to his chin.
    One last glance beneath the chairs
    assures him that there are no bears;
    then, snug and warm in his bright cocoon,
    my son camps out in the living room.