One Body

We have now adjourned from the time of Advent, exited Epiphany, and are now fully in the incarnation of Christ living amongst us. I can’t think of a better time to contemplate what it is that “incarnation” looks like and what it could mean for all of us (not just Christians), this union of God and humanity.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John 1; 1-5, 14 (emphasis mine)

If there is one thing which I truly loathe in this world (and there is definitely more than one), it is the idea of arrogant and elitist exclusion. The notion that there are special snowflakes set apart from the rest of us plebs who feel entitled to better treatment, especially if it’s to the detriment of others, is infuriating. It brings to mind that nineties SNL sketch where the whole bit was Kevin Nealon responding to every perceived slight with that Jersey attitude of, “What? You think you’re better than me?!” While not nearly as impulsive or aggressive, that reaction is not terribly unlike my own regarding the arbitrary divisions that have been built between clergy & laity (arbitrary divisions of all kinds that hurt others are not okay, but I’m trying to stay on topic). Any religious institution which divides its members into class systems and places more value on one than the other is not one whose religious foundation can claim to be built on the love of God. Why? Because such distinctions which put clergy in a position of unquestionable authority and sanctified power over “regular” people breeds environments that more easily permit abuse & corruption. Hierarchy has no place in a truly loving & healthy spiritual relationship. Furthermore, Christ did not put himself above his disciples, above the prostitutes and tax collectors, above children, or any other class of people. Our modern church power structure is not one modeled on the life & ministry of Christ as he lived it while he inhabited our world. Everyone was equal in the eyes of Christ regardless of education, wealth, nationality, sex, age, or social standing. The longstanding divisions that have been created between the “holy” and “profane” have manipulated the dominant theological opinions held by so much of Western Christianity which proclaim that everything of human origin is by nature evil and wholly cut off from God. This kind of theology professes that you, in your current earthly state, cannot be good enough in God’s eyes no matter what you do. Which is precisely why you need other, better, men to talk to God on your behalf and you may just luck into Heaven after all.

I resent and resist that kind of theology. I believe that we are all capable of meeting God and being met by God and we do not have to have a specialized degree, or title, or collar, or building in order to do so. We can employ sacraments and engage in sacred spaces wherever we feel the Spirit, no matter how mundane or “profane” a space we happen to be in, because God is both transcendent and incarnate, not in spite of our natural circumstances. God dwells amongst us at all times, not in some remote and far off place apart from our messy existence. I feel that is the big-picture message that God was trying to communicate via the Incarnation – that God can and God will come down to our level in every facet and form we can imagine. That there is not, actually anything inherently obscene about merely being human, but that there is, in fact, something sacred that can be drawn out from our human experiences.

I mean, how can you believe that God was willing and eager to take on human flesh; live amongst us AS us; live and love the diseased of mind & body; undergo brutal violence and shameful death, and yet would somehow NOT treasure these fleshy vessels we each carry with us? How could our fragile beauty not be held as something precious & valuable by the one who experienced it firsthand? Surely our God who continues to live with us now could not regard this earth as anything less than sacred. Surely every inch of light and darkness is imbued with that Holy Spirit.

We wouldn’t bother to remember Christ’s own physical incarnation each week through communion if there wasn’t something holy about being in human skin. I believe that we are born wearing all the qualifications we need in order to be in communion with that same God simply by virtue of inhabiting these earthly bodies. I see no need for any intermediary between myself and my God. I have no use for divisions between secular and sacred. Neither did God when taking on human form nor as the Holy Spirit dwelling amongst us all now. The Incarnation was an eternal communion between Spirit and humanity that continues even now. One Body, One Blood, One Spirit. Amen.

+ Katie +

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For National Poetry Day (UK)

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, and as it is still October 6th stateside, I thought I’d mark the occasion with the posting of a poem. I can’t remember when I first wrote it as I didn’t have the good sense to date it when I did, but I would guess it was probably either 2015 or 2014. What with it being my favorite season of all (Fall) and the time creeping ever closer to Halloween, the theme of it seemed appropriate.

 

Hallowed

Feathers stuck on midnight
whisper softly in the air,
singing of dirges & hymns.

You should not weep for the transition;
the Nevermore
the illusory
our lives as ashes burnt by the sun.

It is, after all, a waste of a good mourning
to regret and chase
the Neverwas –
what cannot be.

Visions of dust catching light
as permanent as
fleeting glances,
as resolute as Midnight Masses.

Here, oh here, is where
we stake our claim
to carve out the niche
to bear our name.

 

+ Katie+

Thoughts & Prayers

Photo by me

I extend my thoughts & prayers.
May they shield you from the inevitable bullets unleashed
by money’s stubborn stronghold
on the souls of our politicians.

May these thoughts & prayers comfort you
as you dial a number that will not answer;
As you wait for a voice from the throat of your loved one,
silenced by metal held more precious than their life.

May these thoughts & prayers be drops of solace in your endless, salted grief;
oceans of pain with no horizon of relief,
no oasis of rectification in sight.

May these thoughts & prayers fill the void in your heart
that feels as though it will never stop breaking.
May they be a balm to your rage
with no outlet
&
no sensible resolution.

May these thoughts & prayers reach the deaf ears of the powerful,
their hubris and padded bank accounts
the only things which help them sleep at night.

May these thoughts & prayers be with you
through your unanswered questions, your doubts.
May they be thrown into the grave to rot,
as all the pretty flowers and condolences wither & fade,
while you’re left to swallow & endure the silence in their wake.

May these thoughts & prayers sustain you & keep you,
as the anxiety creeps up your throat
with the gnawing reality of no change coming;
As tomorrow’s sunrise infuriatingly lights up a new day
where you only see shadows and tears.

May these thoughts and prayers comfort you.
A paltry pittance,
Too little
Too late.

+ Katie +

Pride & Prejudice & Hate Crimes

One more senseless gun tragedy in an endless deluge of senseless gun tragedies. Fifty lives were taken in the early hours this morning, snuffed out in a matter of minutes in a quick & cruel hailstorm unleashed by an AR-15. And why? Hatred – a blind sickness, a cancer that corrupts & devours all it touches. The man responsible for this crime was consumed with his hatred for those different from him, those who strayed from his twisted & deluded ideology. The victims he took were no longer human in his eyes just targets for the picking. 

I will never understand how one person can take the life of another for sport, for amusement, for any reason. I will never understand how a person can be so hollow & void of empathy that they no longer recognize themselves in the faces of others. That level of cruelty & violence is beyond me, thank God, but that won’t keep me safe from it. 

I’m sure none of the victims that died this morning could understand it either. But now, through the vicious actions of a total stranger, it will be their loved ones who are left to ask the question of, “Why?”, and never receive a satisfactory answer. There isn’t a good reason to be had. There is no plausible, rational reason to kill dozens of people. There is no excuse for the slaughter of human beings. 

Of course, there will be those (as there always are) who say there was no way to have predicted this or to have prevented it. Except, we’ve known this was going to happen since the last mass shooting took place. We’ve all known that the last time was never going to actually be the last time. It was just a matter of when and not if the next crazed gunman would appear; to decide who would live & who would die. 

This country has always had an unhealthy obsession with guns & violence. We wield them as tools with brazen hubris and have done so since our puritanical ancestors first stepped ashore here. Our nation’s entire history is one built on notions of domination, entitlement, and death. From our unceasing expansion westward to tame the land & break the natives; to our subjugation & abuse of African Americans; the rapes, lynchings, & cross burnings; the beatings, shaming, & murders of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We see this violence re-enacted again & again, like a deranged stage play – the next verse is the same as the first. And despite all the bloodshed, the tears, and the crying out, we will probably do what we’ve always done – nothing. 

We put our tragedies on repeat within the 24 hour news cycle, shed some tears, offer prayers, and move on. With our eyes averted from the issue we try to pretend it isn’t there & just hope that next time it isn’t us or some we know.

While prayers alone will accomplish nothing, I did pray this morning in church. I prayed for those who died. I prayed that somehow our politicians & our citizens would finally do something about gun control. Thoughts & prayers are nice, but when that’s your only response in the face of every new tragedy they start to feel like meaningless platitudes. However, we must refrain from merely scapegoating the mentally ill. People who are mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence then perpetrators. The real issue is gun violence & gun control and it always has been. 

The sad & brutal truth of the matter is that the advocates for more relaxed gun laws & fewer restrictions have demonstrated that they value guns over human lives. They value the money & political support of the NRA over human lives. 

I would be perfectly content if every single gun were rounded up & melted down & turned in to something life-building instead of life-destroying. Ploughshares, housing for the homeless, bridges, charcoal grills, ANYTHING but the preferred implement of mass death dealing by the enraged & petty. 

I hope & I pray that more people will recognize how absurdly vapid the fixation on guns is. How terribly unimportant they are when compared to the life of a loved one. But hoping & praying won’t accomplish anything. If anything is to ever change we have to get uncomfortable, get assertive & fight for that change ourselves. Complacency kills, quite literally. Our continued complacency as a nation in the face of staggering violence will only end with our slow suicide. 

I am so, so tired of hearing about the murder of innocents, the numbers of fatalities read off as if it were as banal as the traffic report. My heart hurts and my soul is weary from all the anguish & senseless death. Fifty people were killed this morning with over fifty more in the hospital. How much higher does the body count have to get before we do something? 
+ Katie +