“We are not experiencing utopia here on earth.
But God meant things to be easier than we have made them.
A man has a natural right to food, clothing and shelter.
A family needs work as well as bread.
Property is proper to man.
We must keep repeating these things.
Eternal life begins now, “all the way to heaven is heaven, because He said, ‘I am the Way.’”
The Cross is there of course, but “in the Cross is joy of spirit.”
And love makes all things easy …
Love is indeed a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, of each of us, but it is the only answer …
to the saints everyone is child and lover.
Everyone is Christ.”
Utopia by Dorothy Day. From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Neighborhood Ministries.
A harsh and dreadful thing…
The phrase reminds me of the Denise Levertov reading where she equates mercy to rage and joy.
Why do we make the gospel into a Hallmark movie? This thing that we are asked to do is both easy and hard. The call to love God and love neighbor, is the whole deal in one phrase. And it takes a lifetime to live into.
These natural rights are not the norm for many even in our “wealthy” country. Privilege is real, an unseen line that divides and creates distinction. If you don’t believe that, you probably live from a place of invisible privilege.
“Eternal life begins now.” The kingdom of God is a both and. It is coming and it is here. I am to long for it and work for it today. It is the sublime paradox.
It is in this paradox that I find hope. And love, as easy to love as it is to love a little child or a lover.
And this is the kingdom of God. Even so come.
“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.
When you think about starting out a new relationship, Mary and Joseph sure got thrown in the deep end!
Strict dating rules, a betrothal, a long distance relationship without cell phone service, a sudden return, scandal and gossip, breaking up, and a nighttime angelic visitor. What a beginning!
And that doesn’t count a donkey ride in the middle of prodromal labor! Seriously?! Not one of my midwifery clients would sign up for that.
I love how the Nativity movie portrays the growing love and respect between this young couple. It is inviting to consider this home that Jesus grew up in. They needed that foundation! They were about to become immigrants, and just have each other; perhaps in a land that did not want them. Not so different from our precious immigrant families I get to do life with.
This is a hard season for us in many ways. The holidays, always; my father-in-law died our first Christmas as a young couple. But this year has been a hard season on so many levels.
I am so grateful for the love and respect in our marriage and home, which undergirds this unknown path. This young couple, married 29 years last August, got thrown in the deep end too.
This Advent, may there be space to remember the journey. Theirs and ours….
I am seen. I am known. I am not alone. I am safe.
These are my core longings.
A friend sent me a text today with these words: “You are seen. You are not alone. You are known. Truth💜.”
And for tonight, that is enough. All the not knowing that I am asked to hold in my heart right now can just be. Or perhaps, it is being held. By love. By Love.
Creativity flows from people all around me, scattered through days. It binds the narratives of the years of our stories together.
It’s curious how people draw together in times of crisis. One brings soup, another bowties for a dance, someone drops puzzles by… There are bills paid and groceries bought, floors mopped and laundry folded.
And folded into the clothes is love. I’ve had several people say lately, “I hope you know how much you’re loved.” It’s interesting that it’s hard to let that much goodness in.
Maybe that’s not my job.
And so, the love flows over and through, filling in the cracks. And I’m asked for nothing more than to stay in the moment. To let the goodness in requires a different kind of courage.
Provision for today, courage for today. And all the cracks and crevices between filled in with love.