For some reason, the old mountain hermit
came down from the mountain. A former son
of a rich farmer, he’d gone to war, 
came home, found God, after a rough time
in the north of France. Lived alone, now,
was said he prayed all day long, for hours
unending in the nave of the woods.

That Sunday, folks in church wore their best,
listened politely. The old preacher raised his hands
in the hot storefront church and said, “Brethren,
do not be ashamed.” He wiped his brow
with a yellowed hankie. “It is our job,”
he said, “To love one another.”
A silence crept through the wide windows of
the former feed store. “Brothers and sisters,”
he began again. “We are called upon
to be a new thing.” The congregation sat still,
mouths drawn. Who was this man,
to call upon them to behave like new
people? They already knew their God’s
contours and found it was like their own.