“And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, and they Were talking to Jesus.”–Mark 9:2
They were talking to him about heaven, how all forms there were luciform,
How the leather girdle and the matted hair, how the lice coursing the skin
And the skin skinned alive, blaze with perfection, the vibrance of light.
And they were talking about the complexities of blood and lymph,
Each component crowding the vessels, the body and the antibody,
And they were talking about the lamp burning in the skull’s niche,
The eyes drinking light from within and light from without,
And how the present belonged to the flesh and its density and darkness
And was hard to talk about.
Before and after were easier.
They talked about light.
They were talking to him about law and how lawgiving should be
Like rainfall, a light rain falling all morning and mixing with dew –
A rain that passes through the spider web and penetrates the dirt clod
Without melting it, a persistent, suffusing shower, soaking clothes,
Making sweatshirts heavier, wool stink and finding every hair’s root on the scalp.
And that is when you hurled judgement into the crowd and watched them
Spook like cattle, reached in and stirred the turmoil faster, scarier.
And they were saying that, to save the best, many must be punished, Including the best.
And no one was exempt, as they explained it,
Not themselves, not him, or anyone he loved, anyone who loved him.
I want to believe that he talked back to them, his radiant companions,
And I want to believe he said too much was being asked and too much promised.
I want to believe that that was why he shone in the eyes of his friends,
The witnesses looking on, because he spoke for them, because he loved them
And was embarrassed to learn how he and they were going to suffer.
I want to believe he resisted at that moment, when he appeared glorified,
Because he could not reconcile the contradictions and suspected
That love had a finite span and was merely the comfort of the lost.
I know he must have acceded to his duty, but I want to believe
He was transfigured by resistance, as he listened,
And they talked.
Source: “Transfigured” by Mark Jarman, from Praying the Gospels through Poetry Lent to Easter, by Peggy Rosenthal, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH, 2001.
From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Mystic Activists, Neighborhood Ministries
I remember, early in our journey of foster care, the school director made a side remark: “Sometimes love is not enough.” I was taken aback at her “rude” comment; so different from all those who said we were doing such a wonderful thing. The reality is, 10+ years in, I trust her words much more. The platitudes are long gone along with that initial wave of well wishers. The director remains a wise voice in my ear, here for the long journey.
And daily, we choose love. Love for the children, for the bio family, for the community, even for the forces that shaped them. It is a bold YES.
I read this poem through several times. It really turns the story on its head!
Lent is like that. We want to fast forward to the end of the story, the resurrection that we know is coming because we peeked at the last chapter. But Lent says no, read the whole story.
This idea of transfiguration as the resistance of love…
I wonder if there was a time that Jesus realized love was not enough? Sounds sacrilegious, almost, doesn’t it?
Love wasn’t going to shortcut the story. It couldn’t protect those He loved from pain.
And yet, it is enough; it’s a both/and. It is enough for today.
And they talked.
We are on a branching family tree. Some little branches have been grafted in by adoption. We fostered and adopted within a sibling group with several other families. We have big kids and littles in our birth family.
We have family of origin and family of choice. There are lots of ways to show up as family. We have family in this country and family in South America and Canada. We have family whose heritage is woven with the ancient people of Mexico. Family with African roots. Family looks lots of different ways. Some of the seedlings are starting family. Family that is rich and diverse.
It seems that my ideas of what it means to be family doesn’t look the way I imagined many years ago. Gratefully. I am learning that family can be more diverse, more multicultural, more challenging, and more precious than anything I could have dreamed. More challenging, and more precious than anything I could have dreamed.
It takes a lot of work to grow family. Sometimes, the intensity is hard to hold. But we are family.
We have been testing out the sickness piece lately. It seems like if it’s almost ready to be 100° that all the viruses should die off. But apparently not.
First one kid then another, then another. Gratefully, I am still above water. I am hitting the immune enhancers hard. My immune system is suppressed from treatment, and I ask for an extra measure of grace.
And so I sit on the porch, listening. And in the stillness of the night, I hear the quiet. The Spirit of God moves over the face of the water. Perhaps this still small voice whispers. As my mind drifts through the day, I notice the soft movement of the wind. There were moments of goodness today.
Hugs from my youngest, not to be taken for granted. I remember twice a week in attachment therapy, spooning pudding and playing games with M&Ms. We didn’t know if bonding was even possible. My man cub child came out tonight with a sore ligament after basketball. I rub some essential oils in, marveling that touch is possible for this one, for whom trauma has left a mark of vigilance. He lingers; I notice. Spelling words reviewed on the front porch with a daughter by candlelight bring the pre teen anxiety down. A wee note from a daughter in Nazareth, ironically; reassurance to a mama’s heart. Food was served tonight, fish in a masala sauce. An every day occurrence perhaps for some, but I do not take for granted the making of meals, as my body does the work of healing. I took little jars of water to the garden seedlings today. There is grace in the noticing. I have had the reputation of killing plants for too long. Recently I decided I am tired of that label. I’m asking for eyes to see when plants are thirsty. I had my hands on a mama belly today, the baby stretching little feet to push back. it reminded me again that the story of the work of my hands is not yet done being written.
And so, among my every day moments; today, there shimmers glimpses of the Eternal.
And for this moment, in the midst of sickness and healing, it is enough.