Given to Rust

Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal
more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.
Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)
but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t
pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved
through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,
like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday
a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and
said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.
I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion
to sing but
there’s gravel now. An undercurrent
that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide
down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me
what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To
stifle the sound of my voice. I know.
Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.
What does it mean
to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit
of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen
all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was
putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.

Vievee Francis

Bless Us

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

–Psalm 67.6–7

Lord our God, bless us, that the world may be blest. Help us, that the whole world may be helped. Grant us your mercy in Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for the whole world. May it soon be revealed that your kingdom stands and will bring our age to an end, a good and blessed end. Grant your blessing on every aspect of our lives, on all the concerns and requests we have on our hearts, and help us to praise and thank you every day. Let your will become known everywhere in spite of the horror and blasphemy, so that even the dying may glorify you and all who have to suffer may praise and thank you because they see your face and recognize your light. We want to entrust everything to you, Lord God. We await you. We rejoice and thank you, for we know your will shall be done. We know and believe that your name shall be glorified. Amen.

–Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

 

Insignificance and Offense

Christ chose to be the socially insignificant one. The fact that he descended from heaven to take upon himself the form of a servant is not an accident which now is to be thrust into the background and forgotten. No, every true follower of Christ must express existentially the very same thing – that insignificance and offense are inseparable from being a Christian. As soon as the least bit of worldly advantage is gained by preaching or following Christ, then the fox is in the chicken house.

–Søren Kierkegaard

Oscar Romero on Prayer

The guarantee of one’s prayer is not in saying a lot of words. The guarantee of one’s petition is very easy to know: how do I treat the poor? The degree to which you approach them, and the love with which you approach them, or the scorn with which you approach them – that is how you approach your God. What you do to them, you do to God. The way you look at them is the way you look at God.

–Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

Eugene Debs on Human Kinship

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living human beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest person on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

–Eugene V. Debs, Statement to the court upon being convicted of violating the Sedition Act, September 18, 1918