So it is not hard to understand
Where God’s body is, it is
Everywhere and everything; shore and the vast
Fields of water, the accidental and the intended
Over here, over there. And I bow down
Participate and attentive
It is so dense and apparent. And all the same I am still
Here, now, I am thinking
Not of His thick writs and His blue
Shoulders but, still, of Him. Where, do you suppose is His
Pale and wonderful mind?
I would be good-oh, I would be upright and good.
To what purpose? To be shingling not
Sinful, not wringing out of the hours
Petulance, heaviness, ashes. To what purpose?
Hope of heaven? Not that. But to enter
The other kingdom: grace, and imagination,
And the multiple sympathies: to be as a leaf, a rose,
A dolphin, a wave rising
Slowly then briskly out of the darkness to touch
The limpid air, to be God’s mind’s
Servant, loving with the body’s sweet mouth-its kisses, its
I know a man of such
Mildness and kindness sit is trying to
Change my lie. He does not
Preach, teach, but simply is. It is
Astonishing, for he is Christ’s ambassador
Truly, by rule and act. But, more,
He is kind with the sort of kindness that shines
Out, but is resolute, not fooled. He has
Eaten the dark hours and could also, I think,
Solider for God, riding out
Under the storm clouds, against the world’s pride and unkindness
With both unassailable sweetness, and consoling word.
Every morning I want to kneel down on the golden
cloth of the sand and say
some kind of musical thanks for
the world that is happening again—another day—
from the shawl of wind coming out of the
west to the firm green
flesh of the melon lately sliced open and
eaten, its chill and ample body
flavored with mercy. I want
to be worthy of—what? Glory? Yes, unimaginable glory.
O Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am
not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing toward you.
I went to Vanderbilt Divinity School because of a professor there, Sally McFague. I read her book, The Body of God where she speaks of God being immanent in the world, and being the world. Sally would describe this as panentheistic – God is in everything and also timelessly extends beyond everything. In her world of Christianity, or so as I understood her, one could not be pantheistic and be a Christian, for a pantheist says God is the world, and nothing more. I wondered why she and others feared taking the final step? Is it because they felt somewhere in them such puzzlement in their minds, or perhaps a call to goodness and kindness that could not be explained by the mere world around them? Or was it that they feared the loss of self that knows no distinction between self and slug?
Also while attending Vanderbilt Divinity School I would tire of statements that contained this phrase, “Humans are the only ones that_________.” Every instance where I heard that I would think, no, that’s not true, this or that kind of nonhuman animal also does this. In the secular world I hear the same thing. When ever I hear such sentiments, I offer a kind thought to the author, for they will be found out eventually. Either someone will show them current scientific understanding, or it will only be a matter of time before we discover, no that’s not true. Nonhuman animals also do what humans do. For instance, a news article this week argued that that nonhuman animals have spiritual experiences.
Similarly I also heard in Divinity school that evolution leads to humans so the universe would have a mind to comprehend itself and could know itself. Again, I shudder at the audacity of our kind to think that we are the purpose of the Universe, as evidenced by the fact that no other animals are like us.
Enter Mary and her poem. She wonders where God’s mind is and aspires to be that mind – to be goodness and kindness and to love the body earth and all her beings. She does not say that humans are the only ones who can be God’s mind, only that she devotes her life to glory. This glory is to be God’s servant with intentionality to love all bodies, which are also hers and herself.
Reading Mary and thinking back on school and countless theological discussions and sermons written, I think she has captured almost all of my imagination. We are here not to be separate from others, or God. In fact, we cannot be. We are God’s body. Where I differ from Mary, perhaps, as I haven’t asked her, is that the mind is body. So if we are God’s body, so is our monkey mind – imperfect yet perfect, and fumbling and bumbling yet graceful. We have no climbing towards an external perfection to do. As my favorite poet said, we only have to love what the soft animal of our bodies love.
Today, what do you struggle to love? Wherever or however you struggle, I invite you to think of this as you take with me today one breathe. As you breathe in, ponder the peace of interconnection, and as you breathe out, breathe out love.