Gotta love that brood of vipers

John’s passion, will it ever find satisfaction?

Met a parishioner today who wanted to volunteer
to help our homeless neighbors.
“I can do something that doesn’t require physical contact?”
Touch them, seriously, do I have to?
But her cash is indeed welcome
to provide creature comforts–
bus passes, restaurant gift cards, socks.
That counts as touching, right?

John’s passion, will it ever find satisfaction?

And what about you, aghast that anyone
would ask that question
with such revulsion.
Your own repulsion, as if a snake had reared its hood.
Well, that’s a bad metaphor, because you love snakes;
maybe not love, but they’re God’s creatures, too,
oft maligned, oft destroyed (that saint made his reputation by
clearing them out of Ireland).

Your soul recoils
Isn’t she a viper because her desire
to give prophylactic help,
to remain untainted,
doesn’t that make her sterile?
Doesn’t that make her blind, and render,
yet again, 
the homeless invisible
“There are homeless in this hygenic place?” 
Yes, here. And here. And here.

John’s passion, you brood of vipers, when will it gain satisfaction?

Are you worth more just because,
regardless of your unfitness, 
you would yet be in the trenches?
Would not hesitate (unlike that dear rock
on which the church is founded)
to untie the thongs of his sandals,
enduring dung-tinged dirt that would sting
any viper’s scent-seeking tongue,
you would welcome and wash.
Be a foundation of hospitality.

When will your passion find its satisfaction?
Or are you looking for self sanctification?

Open your heart to all,
forego judgment,
yield to compassion.
God can raise stones in your place, too.

Should My Next Tattoo Be a Blue Night Light?

In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

         —from Canticle 16, The Song of Zechariah, Luke 1:78-79

A few years ago now, a friend referred to me as “a blue night light.” A group of us were walking back to our seminary housing after a gathering. I was wearing a blue shirt (blue is my favorite color) at the time; my friend simply used the words to let me know that I was a comforting presence. It was a seemingly fluffy compliment that held no lasting meaning for him. However, I hold on to the image as a part of my identity, especially as I consider what my next tattoo should be.

One tattoo already wraps around my left wrist—seven stars and one crescent moon, all blue—as a reminder of my love of the night sky and how connected I feel to God when out under it. Given his words, and similar ones from others, a blue night light seems fitting, convenient. But why another person’s compliment? my friend asked when told.

Why indeed?

I began attending church ten years ago, after largely resisting formal religion for most of my life, because all I could see was the darkness I associated with dogma–exclusion, bitterness, ignorance. When I read the phrase being Jesus’s hands and feet in the world” as part of the mission statement in the bulletin of the church I went to, a great light bloomed in my heart. Finding a community that looked to serve those in
need–a deeper understanding of what it meant to follow Christ began to dawn on me. Belonging took on new meaning as did serving others.

On this second Sunday of Advent, with the words of John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah–harbinger of a harbinger of the Messiah’s arrival–to give us hope, I can think of no greater compliment than to be called a light in someone else’s darkness.

 

 

Photo from Inhabitots, Eco-night light Moon Jar