I always told you I would catch you. And I catch the whole world. It is trembling now.
I confess, Lord, I fear speaking, writing, like my words aren’t going to help.
That is easy to believe. It is harder to believe your actions can help–and easier to believe that it is better to protect yourself and not try to change.
How do I need to change? How does this world need to change? What is broken, God, from your perspective? For I read the news: I am listening and watching–my feet walking, my voice speaking–in protest with brothers and sisters who call for justice, for change, for a different way of living in the world. I know I have much to understand–that I will not fully understand. But I believe you have given each of us what we need to love one another. You have given each of us the capacity to look at the body of the church and love it for all its members, and not pursue sameness.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.1 Corinthians 12:12-27
The body has hated itself, detested itself, believed parts of its self are worth less. Not all parts have been honored. Not all parts have been loved. Not all parts have been deemed valuable and worthy of equitable treatment. How have I done this, Father? How have I deemed parts of the body less honorable, less good, less important–and hated the very body you’ve given?
You have not seen it. You have largely ignored it. You have been blind and deaf to the cries of parts of the body while you have honored and heard other parts. You hear the rumbling of some body parts but not others. There are parts of the body that are neglected, indispensable to me, the Father of the body, and the body has hated itself but not wanted to admit it. It has turned in on itself while not wanting to see what it was doing, wanting to remain blind, wanting to remain broken, convincing itself that broken is not broken. It is crippled and ailing, reeking of disease and pain, and trying to get used to hobbling, limping, tender with bruises and missing its parts that are not valued or wanted.
I confess, Father, my blindness: I have torn out my eyes. I have torn out my ears. I have torn out my heart. I have said I listen but I have been selective in what I hear. I have seen, but I have been squinting into darkness, not wanting to use your light to help me see clearly.
When one part of the body is hurt and suffering, the entire body is hurt and suffering. And yet I have settled for the body being maimed and broken, like that is just the way the body is. But a broken, crippled, ailing body is not what you dreamed. When you laid down your life, you gave your whole life. A body needs all of itself to be whole, and yet the body detests itself when parts of itself are not honored. It is not whole. It is a body that hatest itself. And that is not the body you gave when you dreamed up the world.
Show me more what you see now. Let me see with you eyes. Let me hear with your ears. In the ways I am blind give me new eyes. In the ways I am deaf unplug my ears. In the ways my heart is hardened, break it open, massage it, soften it and bring it back to life. Heal all parts of the body, Lord. Make this body whole.
Let the parts of the body rise up now, filled with your love and wisdom. Let the body surrender itself completely to you, trusting you to direct where it goes, how it feels, how it loves itself so it can love other parts of the body. May we love the part of the body we each uniquely are, pursuing healing and wholeness, with a willingness to be soft and surrendered, malleable and willing to change.
Let us ask ourselves these questions, Lord…
- How am I unwilling to change?
- What part of the body am I–and how do I value and not value it, as a part of the whole?
- How do I detest my own role in the body?
- How do I neglect the pursuit of my own wholeness–and how does this contribute to the body not being restored?
Father, I recognize there are parts of the body that may struggle to be whole. They struggle, more than other parts of the body, to be healthy and strong. But you love each part of the body equally, and you want no part of the body to be hurting.
- What is my role in helping the other parts of the body be healthy, vibrant, robust–filled with light and joy and hope?
You show Me, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, how I am unfit to help make any other part of the body whole without my own part of the body being whole first. A crippled body part will struggle in vain to help another part of the body that is hurting. And yet each part of the body is made to be healthy, a contributing member of the body as a whole.
- So, what step do you want me to take to be healthy and love others in the unique way you’ve called me to love?
- What role does my repentance have in my loving other parts of the body?
- Of what do I need to repent? How do I need to confess?
- What do you see in my heart that I don’t? How am I blind? How am I deaf?
- How am I hurting myself by not pursuing your healing? How am I hurting others?
- How am I indifferent to the hurt around me? How am I aloof? How am I selfish?
- How am I forgetting who you are–how you are love; how you fight for justice; how you invite me to participate with you in loving the body to the full life you have always meant for it to have?
Father, you are good. I can trust you. What else do you have to say? What other questions should I ask? What more do you have?
See me holding the world. See me holding my children. See me in the rocking and the trembling, the pain and the crying out. I am here. I am not leaving. I am justice. I am strength. I am hope. I am what is missing and what is available. I am love. I am love. I am love. This body is beautiful, and it can be repaired. Do your part. Let me show you how to love. Let me show you what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells like–how to hold it in your hands. I am mercy. I bring mercy. I bring healing. I will flood the earth with my love. I am flooding it. Do you see it? Will you help me love and love and love?
For the Loop Poetry Project prompt this week, write a lament, a prayer, a confession, a song, a promise, a dream. Let your heart speak for the body. Trust its words. Find language that is true.
bless you, sisters,
It is a monster in the dark places
we think we don’t go
but we live there, don’t we
the bones of our flesh
rotting until we turn,
light on our faces,
and leave (our crouched posture
ready to spring and creep
in shadows of decay)
and take one step forward
toward what is strange
and must be good:
a broad open space without
walls and lack and
competition for love.