Today is a holy moment. It is tonight in the Christian year that we mark Jesus’ last supper, when he broke bread and offered a cup, introducing the central celebration of the Christian life — the Lord’s Supper – and also when he was betrayed by one of his own, to begin the journey to the cross and through the cross to resurrection.
As a way of marking this time, I would like to share a poem based on the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. May it help you sense your part in the journey of Easter.
And I’m not just whistling Dixie,
Your Progressive Redneck Preacher,
hear the rip of it tearing in my hands
and think of the calloused skin
of men toiling under the hot sun
often with little pay
in constant threat,
ever asking themselves:
Will I be sent back as illegal
despite their long labors
and searching for hope
toiling to plant and harvest the grain that bore this loaf?
As I open my mouth, ready to whisper ancient words
I cannot but think of the body I watched
laying still and quiet
a tangle of cords its shroud
entombed amidst white hospital walls
just as sure as that fated Galilean lay
in rocky borrowed grave
the only sounds surrounding it are
the constant beep of machines
we call life support
which instead of bringing life
simply delay the inevitable
freeing of that one woman’s soul
from a body
transformed from a house of joy
to a stifling prison of pain,
a sound that mingles with
machine-borne labored breaths
which together resound in that room
like water dripping
deep below Linville caverns.
“This is my body,” my lips whisper
and I cannot but have my mind transported
to the hills and seas of Uganda
where Idi Amin left bodies
of little girls
just like that African princess
who is like a daughter to me
whom he thought defective,
and the smoke clouds of Aushwitz,
which rose engulfing all those
whom madmen called unworthy
while good people watched unmoved.
and think of the man
whose life remains shattered
by one he trusted as a boy
who left scars no one , nor time itself, can heal.
as I remember little girls and mothers
hiding for their life
from the ones that left them bruised.
in each of them the Sacred Light burns bright
just as surely as it shined in Mary’s baby boy
and in me.
This is my cup, I hear him whisper as I say his words
poured out in you and many.
how often we fail to see.
We say “keep those dirty souls out of our parks”
not letting love win for the likes of them.
We say “send them back”,
forgetting that it is in their eyes,
eyes of the stranger
and the poor,
that the Savior’s eyes shine back upon us.
We say “they are too far away”
while so many baby girls
fall under tyrant’s tank
and terrorist’s bomb
their fathers likewise
helpless to save them.
And I fall to my knees
all those I turned away
calling crazy, faggot,
wetback, and gimp
heart broken wide,
face wet with tears.
And somehow, somewhere,
in the music of the moment
I hear a whispered reminder
This, broken, is my body.
Be my body, broken with the broken,
be my life, poured out to the empty.
Let us lay a table together
in the valley of death
so your cup overflows
with drank of healing
for all my who lie broken
trembling in fear.