The Rector's Blog
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May 31, 2018, 9:48 AM

Wade in the Water


Wade in the Water

Tracy K. Smith, 1972

for the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters

One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her,
And a terrible new ache
Rolled over in my chest,
Like in a room where the drapes
Have been swept back. I love you,
I love you, as she continued
Down the hall past other strangers,
Each feeling pierced suddenly
By pillars of heavy light.
I love you, throughout
The performance, in every
Handclap, every stomp.
I love you in the rusted iron
Chains someone was made
To drag until love let them be
Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring.
I love you in the water
Where they pretended to wade,
Singing that old blood-deep song
That dragged us to those banks
And cast us in. I love you,
The angles of it scraping at
Each throat, shouldering past
The swirling dust motes
In those beams of light
That whatever we now knew
We could let ourselves feel, knew
To climb. O Woods—O Dogs—
O Tree—O Gun—O Girl, run
O Miraculous Many Gone—
O Lord—O Lord—O Lord—
Is this love the trouble you promised?

 

From Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Tracy K. Smith.

 

Last week, I was at an event called the Festival of Homiletics, an annual fest / feast of fantastic preaching by well-known and lesser-known luminaries of the wider church:  

  • Walter Brueggemann, who offered us “eight theses, two texts, and five conclusions” as he spoke on economic systems that oppress the poor;
  • Craig Barnes, who spoke of the “anxiety at the core of our age,” and said that Jesus was not [publicly] identified as the Son of God until his baptism, when he became deeply involved in our human condition through his baptism (offered for sin), thereby showing that it is [also] the human state that God loves.
  • Otis Moss III, who stressed that Jesus was concerned with how power is distributed in society and how power affects people – in other words, with politics, and said that to avoid the topic of politics in preaching or teaching is to allow the power differentials of the status quo to remain in place; and 
  • many others – Richard Rohr (the usefulness of personifying evil), ++Michael Curry (the power of love), Diana Butler-Bass (the importance of gratitude as building resilience and encouraging resistance against the things that tear us down or apart) being among the more easily recognized names.

It was a challenging week, but it fed my soul so much!  I probably have more ideas for sermon approaches than at any time since seminary!

On Thursday evening, May 24, Sojourners publisher Jim Wallis, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Franciscan Fr Richard Rohr, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, and several other “elders” came together with 2500-3000 of Festival attendees and other lay and clergy leaders to lead a candle walk to the White House to showcase “A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” – a statement of principles that reclaims Jesus’ message of love for God and for all people, and rejects politics of division, derision, and dominance that are too common in our day (and have plagued us from the beginning of time, truth be told).  If you’d like to know more: see the Reclaiming Jesus website.

Blessings to all!                                     Evelyn+

 


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