[a couple of Advent pieces from a church service this morning seemed worth sharing – don’t miss the song after the reading!]
So there’s no safe place. God, it seems, might insert himself into any conversation, any century. Might settle in – any old place, as he quintessentially did in the West Bank, Palestine, small town called Bethlehem. The story is – God breathed himself into the womb of a woman, turning himself over to her umbilical care, folding himself into fetal position, pressing and turning inside Mary, ‘til she, breathing hard, bore down. Mary’s womb turned inside out – amniotic water, gasping infant, placenta spilling into the night, messy and miraculous as any birth anywhere and not a safe place. Did he know – he must have – when he took on flesh and fingernail and bone marrow, he would be at our mercy?
For us too, no safe place. For you see what he’s done – given notice how he, at any time, might break into our conversation, West Bank, West Coast, Bethlehem, Vancouver. There’s no place safe from his radical willingness to be among us.
[From a current SSU student – Note: The poetry collection, of which “A Ritual of Care” is a part, is meant to be fluid; shifting shape, emphasis and words to fit the needs of the specific gathering in which it is read. It is meant to be shared with a trusted group as it offers space to fully witness the realities of our time.]
A Ritual of Care
Hello, friends and family You are most welcome here Thank you for sharing this hallowed space Together
Today, we have the opportunity To bear witness to one another With all the courage that we possess We will safeguard one another in care You are safe here
In doing this We honour the Creator, who connects us We honour the child, from which we have grown We honour our youth, those who speak earnestly We honour our present selves, we, who are fully alive We honour our elders, those who have walked this road before and know so much We honour our ancestors, who we will become
As we bear honest and courageous witness to one another Our compassion will overflow from our cup to each other’s We will pass hope like mashed potatoes around a communal table Our grief melting like butter Saturated with our abundant tenderness.
Today, let our generosity extend to each other Within this room and beyond Let us lend our courage to see each one of us as beloved We are one creation Each of us, a whole being
And as we rest together, in the safety of each others spacious arms We acknowledge our strengths Our ability to care, deeply and without reserve We honour our individual longings And as we metabolize our collective sorrow We honour each other as we step into compassionate action May we take this opportunity to become Tender Alchemist of our time.
[Maybe you missed last weekend’s “Rain and Snow” festival featuring Pádraig Ó Tuama and many others? Or maybe you were there and now you him, or miss poetry? ]
“What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade”
Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,
how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.
After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s
voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—
something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home….
Brad Aaron Modlin, [This is the start of a poem that Padraig shares and discusses in the first episode of the new podcast he started with On Being just before coming to St. Stephen. Hope it whets your appetite for more. Check this out for the full poem and Padraig’s reflection.]