Ode to a Copier

As we begin Holy Week, Christians throughout the world will journey from the agony of crucifixion to the joy of resurrection. It is, of course, the most significant time in the liturgical year and the very heart of our faith. Yet we must also pause and give thanks for the unsung heroes of this whole operation: the hardworking parish copiers and those who dutifully operate them.

When the copier inevitably jams or runs out of toner or stops working altogether in the midst of cranking out the Easter Vigil bulletin, it is the parish secretary who stands on the front lines of Holy Week. He or she lovingly coaxes this essential machine or screams at it or sings incantations over it. While it’s true that Easter never failed to arrive on account of a broken xerox machine, these beasts of burden will be taxed to the limit this week. And in the process, much hair will either turn gray or be yanked out by the roots.

Thus, as I have in years past, I offer a poem in honor of these vital machines in hopes that they will be up to the task. Sure Christians survived without copiers for nearly 2,000 years. But let’s face it — without the bulletins they produce most of us would be left in the liturgical dark. Oh, and don’t forget to thank the parish office staff (though I recommend doing so next week after things have calmed down).

Ode to a Copier
A Prayer for Holy Week

Holy Week, dear friends, will soon draw nigh;
From Trinity, Boston to All Saints’, Tenafly.

Parish secretaries and their rectors, too,
Thinking of the bulletins that will ensue,

Drop to their knees and begin to quake,
Praying their copiers will stay awake

Through Maundy Thursday and the rest;
Without behaving as if possessed.

Rectors wonder with uncertainty,
“Should I have purchased the extended warranty?”

Misfeeds, toner woes and a paper jam
Always seem to accompany the Paschal Lamb.

Why this happens is a great unknown,
A mystery worthy of the bishop’s throne.

So stoke the incense, say your prayers;
anything to stave off copier repairs.

As the dark shadows of Tenebrae now approach;
may your copier behave without reproach.

And as we begin the Good Friday fast,
May it wait ‘til Low Sunday to breathe its last.


6 Comments on “Ode to a Copier”

  1. Mary W. Cox says:

    Well, you have inspired me, Tim…

    Recalling my days as parish staff,
    I sing the humble mimeograph,
    with sticky stencils and ink galore
    on fingers and walls and the office floor.
    It would “chunka” along and suddenly jam,
    eliciting—yes—an unchurchly, “DAMN!”
    Oh, the copier’s lightyears beyond those days,
    but like any machine, it’s designed to craze,
    and it WILL break down, and it WILL just stop
    in the week when your workload is over the top.
    So for all parish staff who are near wits’ end
    with the willful machines they’re obliged to tend,
    in this week when you’re fetching the Holy Chrism,
    save some for a techno-exorcism!

  2. Ev says:

    ….sniff…that’s beeee-uuuu-tiful! …sniff…

  3. Father Tim says:

    Mary, this is brilliant! Of course, I’d expect nothing less from the Poet Laureate of Lent Madness.

  4. Mary W. Cox says:

    Feel free to share–writing that was just so much more fun than working!

  5. Judy McAdoo says:

    Thank you…thank you…thank you…..it helps to know we are not alone. As I sit here waiting for the copier repairman as my machine broke down in the middle of…..yes, you guessed it…printing the Easter Vigil leaflet! Thank you for some much needed humor on this craziest of weeks!!!

  6. kathi ferris says:

    These sentiments go for teachers, too! It never fails: when you need it the most, the copier waves the white flag and surrenders to the fate of the repairman’s visit (which is always after the needed by date for the copies!) It was after I retired from teaching (after 25 years full time and 15 as a sub) that I realized the significance of this: too much paperwork (classwork and homework) that really proves nothing. Anyway thanks for the ability to see the humor in a situation.


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