Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Whole New Poetry

by David Weiss

Today I am struggling for words.

What have I seen these past days except Communion?

I remember years ago, as a teenager, once seeing my pastor lift a pitcher high to pour the wine from three feet above the chalice to accentuate the drama of the words, “poured out for you.”

This week it was as though the twin mics were the hands an unseen Celebrant lifting up the Bread to say in faithful disagreement, “This is my Body, broken for you. Do this … to re-member me.”

Who of us came to Minneapolis to see the Body broken? We go to church weekly, anticipating with innocent calm the breaking of the bread, so easily forgetting the original terror of the words when first instituted. We take for granted that this breaking brings wholeness, because it is typically loaves, not limbs or Lutherans that are broken.

So is our joy to be muted? No. We have witnessed the Magnificat play out in our Assembly. How can our souls not magnify the Lord?

How then do we tend to the Body?

By doing as we have done all week, all decade, all of our lives: by being persistently and (as we are able) graciously present to our brothers and sisters in Christ. By reminding them, gently to be sure, but with wisdom hard-won ourselves, that as Simone Weil wrote, “Life does not need to mutilate itself to be holy.”

What we have learned in our own journeys toward affirmation, wholeness and integrity is now our best witness to those who see no option except to mutilate the Body of Christ in the desire to keep it holy.

Me? As I have moved through this week I have felt the power of Adrienne Rich’s intuition, that, as the truth of our love finds its voice, there is “a whole new poetry beginning here.”

In the company of those of you here at the Convention Center and alongside those of you reading my words from afar, I have been watching, listening, weeping, aching, hoping, and trying to echo bits of my experience for others to read. Seeking Communion.

Again, Adrienne Rich, elegizing a team of women mountain climbers who perished together on a Russian mountain peak in 1974, describes their death-defying solidarity in words that were ours this week:

Now we are ready
and each of us knows it I have never loved
like this I have never seen
my own forces so taken up and shared
and given back
After the long training the early sieges
we are moving almost effortlessly in our love

We know now we have always been in danger
down in our separateness
and now up here together but till now
we had not touched our strength

What does love mean
what does it mean “to survive”
A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
burning together in the snow We will not live
to settle for less We have dreamed of this
all of our lives

And while it is true that we are yet some ways off from the full Kin-dom of God, both in the details of the documents and in the strained fellowship of the Assembly, at the reception in Goodsoil Central on Friday night the food—“heavy hors d'oeuvres” in catering jargon—tasted like a foretaste of the feast to come. And at the worship service for Hope and Healing, between the eloquent readings, the poignant prayers, the powerful drumming, and the heavenly singing of Cantus, it seemed as though God, too, has been dreaming of this day for all of our lives and more.

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