Friday, September 24, 2010

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened

To the bread

And the wine.

They have been blessed.

What now?

The body leans forward

To receive the gift

From the priest’s hand,

Then the chalice.

They are something else now

From what they were

Before this began.

I want

To see Jesus,

Maybe in the clouds

Or on the shore,

Just walking,

Beautiful man

And clearly

Someone else


On the hard days

I ask myself

If I ever will.

Also there are times

My body whispers to me

That I have.

I admit that the idea for doing this blog on Mary Oliver’s poems came from the movie “Julie and Julia.” In that movie one character finds meaning by cooking one of Julia Child’s recepies a day and then blogs about it over a year’s time. In one part of the movie she gets into a section of the cooking book of foods she doesn’t like - Chaud-Froid. This is where you cook meats and then serve them cold in sauces or in gelatin. I wonder if in some ways I have hit my Chaud-Froid section of Mary Oliver’s poems.

It’s not that I mind the metaphors and symbols of the Christian church; I just miss the ample references to the nonhuman world. Mary has always been lovely that way. Every day I can get out of the human centered world and see that the interdependence that tree is bird is me is you. Yet, in all those earlier poems I noticed that they didn’t get to the human condition so much, the suffering, the death, the loss, and the injustice. I missed that she didn’t address that.

So here we are, a poem about a man who asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves, even in the midst of our great pain and hurting. Now that’s a recipe that may not be easy to make or consume, but worth trying none-the-less. What else is love for?

What is your relationship with Christianity?


  1. I hear you, too often for too long many religions including Christianity have directly and indirectly with words and actions of what I feel many people see as attempts to control peoples decisions, actions, and lifestyles instead of helping restore a peace, love and feelings of inclusion or that individuals belong.

    helping others who feel alone (who do NOT want to feel alone) seems to me would be better accepted.

  2. I can hear how you really long for organizations that support people where they are, instead of changing them. Is that right?