The following was written by Anne Voegtlen as a response to one of the lectio passages from the fall retreat.
The Unclean Spirit, II
“When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it wanders through waterless places in search of a resting place. When it doesn’t find one, it says, ‘I will go back to the home I left.’ It then returns, and finds it swept and refurbished. Next it goes out and brings back seven other spirits more vile than itself, who enter and settle in there. So that person ends up worse off than when he or she started.”
But it need not end this way.
Let me sweep the house, yes.
Let me put off any self-congratulation.
The habits I have made
and worn so long inside me
belong here. They will return
again and again, magnified,
emboldened, if I push them out.
They will come back hungry
for me as home.
Next time, let me bend the habit
without trying to break it. Maybe
hold it close enough to keep a watch
over it. Maybe learn to love
this bent and heavy part of me.
What I have made is here. It is in me.
I can turn toward light and try to
carry it along. Maybe then we all
will find a path aroundthe waterless
places, make a way toward true rest.
What I have made and done—
these things inhabit me.
I wear them close as my own shadow.
If I meet them, if I mend a crimping here
or soften a sharp edge there,
maybe we will come to know
a whole place, a peace for
all the parts of me. No new
guests need be recruited. We will
stay at home, this habit and me.
And we will work together, each
leaning toward the other, truing toward
a calm center, a compass point, a way