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The Black Plague Through a Priest's Eyes
Why did You take Neal away, part my friend from me?
My partner in teaching Your Word You took away.
I was with him breathing his last, going to Thee,
In that dark, back room of his church where he did lay.
He coughed violently, and the black spots shone dark.
The wart on his neck swelled large, the fruit of his plight,
And by the melting candle flame’s flickering spark,
I saw the cuts from bloodletting to save his life.
I longed to wrap arms around him while he could feel them.
He moaned from the splitting headache, his ears ringing.
The blood surged from his mouth worse than the worst cold’s phlegm.
Through his coughing I know I heard Satan singing.
Neal forbade me to come near him, and then was dead
Before he said, through sadistic coughs, a final word.
I was desperate to know what he would have said.
I could not believe Neal was dead; it seemed absurd.
Then I performed a funeral, as I had before.
As dead were brought, one in moments of another,
And as more came, many a body to a board,
I ceased to think Neal and I were with each other.
How can stand to You watch Your people suffer so?
Is this really Your wrath? Could You do this to us?
Could You be punishing us as many may think?
No, You are a good God, even as demons haunt us.
I can be glad You gave me Joel, letting me find
A priest with a good purpose and strong soul for You,
And I am glad to have one of similar mind,
To help people in this tough time, guide them to You.
I want to thank You for those You have already blessed.
Our number grows weekly as more come to Your house.
We are happy to help, but nonetheless,
A flourishing flock requires Your help aroused.
People come even later to Your house to pray.
The candles must burn longer throughout all the night
Many workers have an elongated workday.
Peasants replace dead craftsmen, but we need light.
The church needs candles. Linus went for them today,
But Ben was dead. Of all people, Dirk took his place.
I love Your son, Dirk, but You made his head of clay.
Please let us have wax on wick for Your sacred space.
In Your Name Your servant prays, Amen.
Sunday January 4, 1349
People are frantic. They think gold and gems can save.
A day ago, thieves broke into the church at night.
They took everything of prized metal away.
Crime is everywhere yet the thief out of sight.
This morning my sermon was on saving the Jews.
I am sure Your will cannot be for them to burn,
But the parish does not; they shifted in their pews.
Lord, I fear for the Jews. For their death people yearn.
Father, I also am afraid for my own life,
But I am certain of Your Word, and I can trust You
To be walking along side of me through my plight,
And to walk with, support, and comfort the Jews, too.
Thank You for sparing Castor, my good friend, from this.
He was wise to leave when word of the curse first came.
Although his land and house common property is,
He has saved his life, a considerable gain.
After noon, I was not busy and went outside.
I saw one of Your small children, Your little one,
Abandoned on our step, appearing to have died.
But the corpse shook to hack a cough; death well nigh won.
I knelt by the side of Your fading creation
And shouted to Linus for the soothing blend,
Apple, syrup, rose water, peppermint, lemon.
I pitied this poor boy left for himself to fend.
As the liquid was fetched I noticed that his hand
Was clutching onto an object ever so tight.
I pried it lose, finding it was a talisman.
I felt for him. He thought it could save, thought it had might.
I placed my hand on him, leaning towards his ear.
“God has not forgotten nor forsook you,” said I.
But he continued to shiver and shake with fear.
I then took my view from his devastated eye,
Only to see others in faces all around.
Our town of Strasbourg was in fear and constant strain.
Our faith disappeared when anxiety was found.
Our lives became horror. Our bodies became pain.
The eyes of the dead and the living are the same.
I stood up and screamed to those who there did roam,
Wanting, needing to see something other than pain.
“God is with us here. He will bring his people home.”
Some shook their heads as if they had been told a lie.
Other people looked as if they had nothing heard,
And others just continued to be passersby.
None who were there seemed to be from my statement stirred.
I knelt again near the boy as the blend was brought,
But there Your child lay already limp and dead.
Whether he is now with You or no, I know not,
But You are just. You are God, Beginning and End.
Still In Your Name Your servant prays, Amen
Thursday January 8, 1349
Linus told me of, my friend, Joel’s change of purpose.
You have taken away a partner in Your Word,
Gaining charge and staying well are now his focus.
Like many others, this sickness him has deterred.
Lord, I fear for my life, but You I trust with breath.
A mob brought me a Jew, Your creation, a man.
They asked of me to punish him justly to death.
For silence from their shouting, I raised up my hand.
I lifted my voice, “This man has done nothing wrong.
Let him go his way. Hurt him and others no more.”
The mob was shocked as I let the man limp along.
They soon left, anger swelling in their scared, wroth cores.
Slowly and sullenly the crowd did go away,
But now they have returned; they are many and mad.
They are outside my church preparing me to slay.
I hear them, their voices, angry, fearful, and sad.
But I trust You still. I trust You to hold my life,
To be the great Judge and to do justice with it
After walking with me through the pain and the strife.
If there is a resting place there for me to sit,
I will be content just to be with You, Father,
With You and Your children for all eternity
And away from this life that will just get harder.
After staring so long at the face of the Devil it will be nice to see Yours.
Your son, on his way home,