Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26: Ego, Blessed Titus Brandsma, Humility

OK, for the last week or so, I've been totally focused on sending out work for publication.  This morning, I submitted five more poems, this time to the Black Warrior Review.  This magazine is one of the long shots.  If I get published there, it will be a huge deal.  My motivation for this push to publish is purely selfish:  if I don't get more publications, I will never be even considered for a full-time teaching position at the university where I'm currently an adjunct.  And I'm tired of being the writer on the panel with only one book and a couple magazine credits.  I want to be better known.

That is a total ego thing.  I don't want to be a starving poet.  I want to be a poet with a full-time, well-paying job.  Plus a few prizes and awards.  That's all I'm asking for.  I really don't want to spend the rest of my life working two jobs and 13-hour days.  It's no fun.

Of course, when I'm feeling this self-absorbed, God sends me a little reminder about humility.  Today's saint is Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite priest who died in a concentration camp.  Before World War II, Titus did a lot of things:  taught at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, wrote as a journalist, traveled, and evangelized.  When Hitler came into power in Germany, Titus refused to hide from the Third Reich.  That's how he ended up at Dachau.  At Dachau, he was beaten daily, tortured, and experimented on.  The end of his life humbles me:
On July 26, 1942, Titus gave his Rosary to his nurse who had left the Church.  She administered poison by injections, and Titus died in ten minutes.  His body was cremated at Dachau.
Titus didn't really care about being published, even though he was a journalist.  He used his work to combat injustice in the world.  (He once wrote about marriage laws against Jews in Germany, condemning them publicly.)  In comparison, my poems seem pretty trivial, even silly.  I'm not fighting Nazis or terrorists, unless you count Republicans.  For Titus, it was all about helping the children of God.  For me, it's all about helping a child of God.  Myself, to be exact.

Titus, keeping me honest
I guess I need to keep things in perspective.  Yes, it would be nice if I published some poems, but nobody is going to die if I don't.  In the grand scheme of the universe, my poems are about as important as a crystal of ice on Uranus.  Maybe I need to refocus my efforts.  Instead of trying to help just myself, I need to look around, see who really needs help.  That's what Titus Brandsma would have done.  That's what any saint would do.

Saint Marty needs to make a difference, one poem at a time.

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