7/13/2006

Broken Bodies (revised)

Reading the blogofdaniel I found this quote by Jim Naughton: “By the way, any chance that we can arrange for Paul's analogy about the body and its members to get a few days off.” It got me to thinking out a poem: a note addressed to the Friend.

BROKEN BODIES

Dear Lord, I hope your body
is OK.
my body is
hopeless.

The various members of it
are in disarray,
and as you know the number
of the hairs on my head,
so You must also know
their numbers are decreasing.

Things are OK,
but not great.
Whatever I might have thought about a system
that holds for everything,
about coherence and correspondence
between and among the parts,
indicating the similarity of the body
to Your body,
is undone in this simple reality:
my body is on its way
to systemic failure.

The body is a whole.
I know that,
but that is not necessarily good news.

And I know You knew that
on the cross,
your body a mess,
systems shutting down
all over the place,
pain making separation from this
or that member and its fire
a blessing,
and the final offering of the whole wreckage
a relief.

Paul must have been thinking
with illustrative abandon
to say that the body is One
and all the parts work together,
and so forth and so on.

He must have been looking the other way
for theological reasons,
not finding it useful to comment
on the stone reality
that bodies break down,
on the Cross
or on the Anvil of Time.

So, my body is a mess,
and perhaps my theology
a mess as well,
but there it is.

I am this body,
and when it finishes,
I finish.
Just like You,
only without the chorus.

And maybe,
just like You
I’ll be back,

this time with a body
not of many parts,
but of one,

a broken heart

filled with compassion.

4 comments:

  1. I have previously expressed my own thoughts on the language of the body at http://episcopalhospitalchaplain.blogspot.com/2006/06/varieties-of-gifts.html. However, your poem, and Bishop Jefferts Schori's image of conjoined twins, moved me to a new reflection at http://episcopalhospitalchaplain.blogspot.com/2006/07/episcopal-church-as-chimera.html.

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  2. What a beautiful poem, Mark.

    Thank you. I'm going back to read it again and savour it some more.

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  3. I'm just about to take on a parish appointment in a situation where the people are shattered and disconsolate from recent events and their present situation. Your poem is magnificent and I would like to share it with them.

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  4. Beautiful. I agree with Tim. I'll be reading it again.

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