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Philemon’s Pitcher

Philemon’s Pitcher

Philemon’s Pitcher

(Advent, anytime)


I pour water from the Brita

And think of Philemon’s pitcher

A wonderful story

I’m not sure about the judgey part

But the provision part

Is glorious

If you don’t know

(and if you do),

There was an old couple in

Still more ancient Greece

Living near a town that was

Beautiful in appearance, though the

People there were

Took glory too far

They were vain and unwelcoming

Of those who were not they

They lived well

Strangers were not taken in

Nor impoverished neighbors,

Such as Bacchus and Philemon


They lived poorly

In a hovel

They had worked hard,

But now there was nothing

And one evening they set out

The last of what they had

For they would surely starve by

The next day

A cluster of worn grapes

A pitcher filled with drops of bitter wine

They last meal together


Then two persons appeared in the


And they asked for comforts

Food and afterward a place to sleep

Wife and husband exchanged a glance

Then apologized

To strangers

We have little space

And our food is poor

But we are glad to share with you

If you will, be welcome here

With us


The visitors were pleased and thanked their hosts

And sat down to eat and drink

What might not even share among

The four of them

But when


The wine poured from the pitcher,

It was wondrous

Rich in red and filled with

Savor once tried

And when the grapes were offered,

They appeared full richly on the plate

And were sweet to taste

And satisfying

And the four at table feasted

On small miracles


Once sated

All lay down to rest

What coverings there were,

Bacchus and Philemon presented

To their guests


And in the morning

The couple woke beneath marvelous cloths

And their raiment appeared richly sewn

Their hovel was a house

Of polished marble, the furnishings all



They walked outside into the sun

And in the valley where the town of

The conceited lay,

There was now a lake

Whose surface shown in judgment

Nothing more was seen

Then they knew

If not before

That they had been visited by gods

Who rendered service rendered

From the welcoming

Like that of kings and queens

And thought unasked for

Reward turned into recompense


And so we know

Something of receiving strangers

Who give no cause but need

Be inclined to welcome them

For we might be entertaining angels,



C L Couch


Philemon’s Pitcher

Philemon’s Pitcher


I wished for more

I prayed for miracle

A job, a home


A car to get me there and

Back again

For clothes that set and

Looked good

Well, good enough

Food that might hold me

And I might enjoy


And what happened

With these petitions I don’t


But I think when at I’m the gate or

Once inside

I might be told:


Did you not notice the extra

Potato in the bag

The extra gasoline already in the tank

The fifteen minutes more

Than should not have been available

The one who held the door and

Was never seen again?


The miracles of stories must be large,

I guess

Miracles as molecules

Go uncounted


And those in between

Not for the book but nonetheless

The provenance of angels who

Entertained us unaware


C L Couch

ancient pitcher


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