may my heart always be open to little birds
who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
This is one of my favorite e.e.cummings poems. I especially like the middle stanza. It’s something religious people should memorize. I say this because we who are religious have a penchant for being right, and too often being right means other people are wrong and that leads to self righteousness which is the most terrible sin of all because by its very nature it does not allow us to see that we are wrong.
If we can say, ‘even on a sunday may i be wrong’ it means we can still learn something. The person who knows it all can never know it all because he doesn’t know that there are things he doesn’t know yet. As soon as I say, ‘even on a sunday may i be wrong’ the world opens out and we can learn. Then our minds will be hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple. Then our hearts will be open to all that is beautiful, good and true.
Another benefit: if we can say that we’re wrong, then we are young. It’s old to be sure of everything. It’s old to be suspicious of something new. It’s old to be right about everything. It’s young to be unsure. Its young to make mistakes its young to still be learning. Its young to be wrong.
Does this mean, as Catholics, we do not enjoy the security and certainty of our faith? No, but that security and certainty means something different than what we often think it means. The certainty and security are not meant to make us comfortable and complacent or smug or self righteous.
Yes, we have our dogmas and morality, but these are not an end, but a means to an end. They are not the journey, but the map for the journey. What we have is a certain and secure map for the journey that we can trust. The adventure of faith still has to be embarked on, and that is an adventure that will always be full of personal uncertainty, risk and thrill.
So if you’re reading this and you think you’re right–you’re wrong, and if you think you’re wrong…well at least you’ve got something right.