Ner Tamid


This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by P.C. Scheponik.                                                                                                                  

Ner Tamid

I used to love entering the empty church,
to be alone with the whispers of the tall wooden timbers,
the random creaking of the pews,
the giant crucifix hanging in the center of the altar wall–
Golgotha in marble on wood, suspended in mid air–
a concrete vision of faith, inescapable, galvanizing–
a vision best viewed on one’s knees.
But it was the tabernacle lamp I loved most,
glass goblet the color of Christ’s blood, hanging
from a golden chain.
In the center of the lamp, a single eternal flame–
tongue of Godfire speaking the language of love, of light
that filled my soul with longing, my heart with sorrow
for belonging too much to this body, this blood,
this world that would flood my imagination
until I was drowning in the beauty, clinging to the truth
I was too broken to bear.
In the darkness of the empty church…kneeling there
before the tabernacle’s light…I swear I could feel God
watching me, almost hear Him whispering words of love
in that dancing tongue of fire.


P.C. Scheponik is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife Shirley and their Shichon, Bella. His writing celebrates nature, the human condition, and life’s metaphysical mysteries. He has published four collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea Has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers). His work has also appeared in numerous literary journals, among them Adelaide, Visitant, Red Eft Review, Boned, Time of Singing, WINK, Poetry Pacific, Streetlight Press and others. He was a finalist in 2017, 2018, and 2019 Adelaide Anthology Contest, and was a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Essmann, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.


Jeffrey Essmann is Poetry Editor for IntegratedCatholicLife.org and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Jeffrey is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.

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