Washing Dishes at Freedom Fellowship

I touch my brother gently
upon his shoulder
and he startles
as a scared, small bird
flushed from a hidden, safe place.
"I am sorry," he says.
"I am sorry. I have only been out
of prison three days."
A body marked with a neuronal stigmata,
a chemistry violently scarred.
A touch is not the advent of grace
but an omen, sinister and foreboding.
A crucified body and mind
that suffers and carries our sin.

But the shared meal awaits us.
Our Eucharist of soup and bread.
The Table soothing the cellular trauma.
Synaptically resurrecting and recreating.
"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you."

The hot water bites.
The dishes are baptized,
washing them clean.
My sister dries and shares of her surgery.
A pacemaker.
We rejoice that her heart now beats
seventy times a minute.
Each throb, as the blood flows through her,
a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.

Stars sparkle above the trashcans in the alleyway.
The moon shines off the white garbage bag crinkling and full.
Unburdening to end the work.
It is finished.

Turning, returning
home to the sanctuary of praise.

I hear the saints singing.

Guiding me through the night.

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5 thoughts on “Washing Dishes at Freedom Fellowship”

  1. A beautiful poem! Every one that you have shared moves me. But this one has the flavor of Abraham Joshua Heschel's book of poetry, The Ineffable Name of God: Man. And that is not to take away any of your originality. It's just that he had a way of looking at what most would consider ordinary and seeing God move within it, which this poem sings so well.

  2. I love this. I've been thinking it's about time for me to go to our church's soup and movies program, make some food, wash some dishes, have some conversations. Thanks for nudging that idea forward.

    "The dishes are baptized" !!!

  3. Your poetry often makes me tear up. I think maybe sometimes we get things wrong. The baptism of the dishes and the water so much there. Seeing wild animals in nature, knowing that God placed them there. Those things often mean more to me that show.

  4. This may sound weird, but I like it when people share that something I wrote made them tear up or get emotional. I think Christian theology and the Christian life is best when head and heart are married. I want people to think harder about faith but I also want them to feel more deeply, tenderly and passionately.

    Phrased more autobiographically, I find that I'm most like Jesus when I'm surprised by my tears.

  5. For me, it most often happens with music. Today, at Harold Lipford's funeral, even though the hymns were older, I was so moved by their content--and with knowing how the songs fit into Harold's life. Our lives are filled with such moments--the ones which bear the fingerprints of God.

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