by Dana Kramer-Rolls
Here I was, at the wonderful Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, California, with 134 of my best friends. Sold out, or we would have had more. All Souls Parish annual retreat. A good time to be together. I was in pain. No, not psychic or spiritual. I had torn a ligament in my foot and favoring it sprained the one in the other foot. Every step I took was torture. No, I wasn’t going to stay home, and yes, I was going to camp. Saturday morning, sitting in the Swing Pavilion, I wasn’t feeling very communal. Pain does that. It isolates. The topic was Heaven. Half listening, I scribbled this poem.
Crowded in a room
Pretending to be one
Not one; shards, each in our own minds.
Look around, strangers binding to each other
With a sickly smile, a proper word.
Broken chips hanging on to what?
Nothing but the fiction of a body?
One Body, one Cup?
Perhaps in God’s eye we form the
Mosaic of the face of Christ.
But from here are we nothing more
In this time of every day soul gutting news, can we still see ourselves as One Body, One Cup? But pain, horrible pain, pain from a cruel and callous society, did not isolate Jesus. That was probably the time in his life with us that he was least isolated. His Father was with him. And his earthly mother. And others. Dying and giving Life. It would have been so easy to turn way, run away. But he gave his body that we might be one body, his blood that we might share one cup. We can’t waste that gift. We can’t turn away.
God may not be the first thing we think of then we are shocked by the minute by minute news cycle. Some are knocked out by sadness, even despair. Others want to act immediately, because they want it never to happen again. The shards of human suffering want to make shards out of us. Maybe our only choice is face it and melt into the pain which Our God felt and how God still feels every pain we endure. And then melt into God’s Abundant and Overwhelming Love. By doing that we are not shards, brittle, biting, hard, confused, scattered, but the Face of Christ. There will be, must be, effective and decisive action, be it gun control or systemic social change to end racism and serve the sick, hungry, and poor, but before all else, perhaps we could open our hearts to the Love that endures all, forgives all, heals all.
Dr. Dana Kramer-Rolls is a parishioner at All Souls Parish, Episcopal, Berkeley, California and earned her master’s degree and PhD from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.
Image: a wall sized mosaic icon that our Sunday School kids made this summer of the Prince of Peace out of shards of magazine pages