Friday, July 10, 2009

If Jesus Lived Today

As a child, I was fascinated by the question, "How would Jesus be treated if he showed up in our church? How would Jesus be treated if he was a student in your school?" The variations of this question are endless.

So, perhaps my adult fascinations shouldn't surprise me. I have a whole series of poems that I've written that imagines Jesus in the world today. If you go here, you can read the first of that series to get published, and at that website, you can hear Garrison Keillor read it. It took me a long time to write it, and longer to send it out to be published because it felt somehow sacrilegious to me. But I soon got over that feeling, and I've written lots of poems on this theme. I've also imagined God in the world, and different ideas of the Holy Spirit in the world.

In the past month, I've had two more of these Jesus in the world poems published. You can go here to download your copy of Southern Women's Review. You'll need to scroll to page 48 to see my poem, "Reunion," which imagines Jesus as part of a family reunion. Chiron Review includes two poems of mine in their Summer 2009 edition. "Drained" is part of the same series as "Reunion," and I've pasted it below.

I wrote this poem, "Drained," after a Maundy Thursday service. I was thinking about how shocked the disciples were that Jesus should wash their feet. I was wondering what a similar act would be today: what would be both invasive and intimate. I thought about how many of my friends refuse to let people see the true state of their houses. I thought about how the state of my bathroom often embarrasses me. And voila, a poem was born.

Of all my Jesus in the world poems, none of them provokes the same amount of shock and outrage in people as the one below. I thought about putting it away, but one of my Lutheridge friends reminded me that we'd been talking about art that moves people out of their comfort zones, and that my poem certainly does that. She encouraged me not to abandon it.

So, here it is again. I'd be interested in finding out if you find it shocking, gross, or otherwise offputting.


Jesus showed up on my doorstep, demanding
to clean my bathroom.
I refused.
I mean, it’s one thing for him to face
Crucifixion for my sake.
It’s quite another for him to see
how I really live.

His face—so sad.
He talked about searching
for feet to wash, but modern feet are so clean.
It’s no sacrifice to touch people’s feet.
In this world of pedicures
and solid shoes, a foot washing doesn’t convey
the same care it once did. That’s how he came
to develop his crazy cleaning scheme.

I offered to let him scour my oven,
but he said it wasn’t the same,
and besides, it’s self-cleaning.
He really wanted to deal
with the detritus of my life.

What can I say? Jesus is persuasive.
He organized my jumble of cosmetics and healed
my slow drains. He cleaned
my toilet with his hair.

1 comment:

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