"Aah, go back to sleep. I'm not gonna join one anyway. The kind of luck I have, I'd probably join one with all the wrong kind of monks in it. All stupid bastards. Or just bastards."
Holden talks about religion a few times in Catcher. Here, he's talking to his schoolmate, Ackley, about joining a monastery. Holden seems ready to try about anything, as long as he can be around people who are authentic, true. Like kids. Or, maybe, the right kind of monks.
Holden can't escape inauthentic people. They're always present. At work or school or church, I always meet phonies, as Holden calls them. Some of the best people I know are agnostics or atheists, and some of the most shallow people I know profess to be Christians.
I try to surround myself with good people, whether they're Christians, atheists, straight, gay, black, white, male, or female. It's about the quality of character more than anything else. I have a friend who has no interest in organized religion, and yet I'd describe him as one of the most Christian people I know. He would give you the coat off his back if you said you were cold.
That's what it's all about. Being a Christian isn't simply about going to church. It's about service. Helping your brothers and sisters. It's about action. It's easy to say you're a Christian. The hard part is putting Christianity into practice. It's hard work, and it takes a lot of prayer.
That's what my poem is about today. Prayer. I've been thinking about prayer and Christianity a lot this past week. I guess you might call it soul searching. It's something I do every once in a while, especially when my life journey becomes a little rocky. I haven't come to any monumental conclusions. I've just been asking God a few questions.
Saint Marty's waiting for His answers.
The Shape of Prayer
When Saint Francis prayed,
I wonder if his words rose
like hummingbirds above him,
darted, pulsed in the air,
searching for God's pistil, stamen,
nectar. When Saint Bernadette prayed,
I bet her words sat like oil
on a puddle, waited for sunlight's
prism to transform mud into
scarlet and gold and emerald.
Joan of Arc's prayers stormed the sky
with arrow, sword, lance, spear.
Mother Teresa carried her prayers,
swaddled like infant gods,
nursing them until they grew strong
enough to lift water to their lips,
feed themselves chicken broth, rice.
I'm not sure about my prayers.
Maybe they're quarters, dimes
in my pants pocket, singing as I walk
across the parking lot to my car.
Or a receipt for a birthday
present I bought last year, a winter
jacket, down pillow, bar of chocolate,
something sweet or warm or soft.
Or maybe, just maybe, they're like
winter's first snow, a confusion
of white on a November afternoon,
falling, rising at the same time,
a snow globe in a dying man's hand.
Confessions of Saint Marty