Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Poem for Your Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday.  Will your church wash feet today/tonight?  Strip the altar?  Have a Seder meal?

Will your church have a service at all?  How many people will come?

I have always loved these special services, this time out of time.  One of my favorite Maundy Thursday memories happened at a different church.  Since I had to teach at night, I organized a midday happening that involved lunch.  I had thought about a Seder meal, but that became too complicated.  I made a huge pot of lentils and served it with feta cheese, pita breads, and olives, foods that Jesus and his followers would have eaten every day.

A preschool had taken up every scrap of space in the classroom/kitchen/fellowship hall of the church, so we assembled in the back of the sanctuary.  We ate and read the Maundy Thursday texts and everyone exclaimed about how much they loved the lunch.

A different year, I was stuck in the airport as I travelled back from visiting my grandmother. As I observed the airport and thought about the ancient holiday and my home church, a poem practically wrote itself.

 So, for a different spin on Maundy Thursday, here's the poem.  It was published in Florida English.

Maundy Thursday at Hartsfield

 We long for Celestial food, or at least to leave our earthbound
selves behind, but it is not to be. The airport shuts
down as late thunderstorms sweep across the south.
I resign myself to spending Maundy Thursday in the airport.

One of a minority who even knows the meaning of Maundy,
I roam restlessly. I cannot even approximate
a Last Supper—the only food to be had is fast
and disgusting. I think of that distant
Passover, the Last Supper that transformed
us into a Eucharistic people.

A distant outpost of a vast empire, teeming
with a variety of humans, all hurrying
and keeping our heads down: Jerusalem or the modern
airport? I watch my fellow humans, notice
the hunger in their faces, their haunted feet,
so in need of love and water.

I watch Spring Breakers and athletes and moms
and gnarled elders and unattached children, all racing
through their earthly days, hurtling through time,
crossing continents, without any rituals to ground
them. I think of Christ’s radical
agenda: homelessness, care, and listening,
ignoring rules that made no sense,
making scarce resources stretch,
food eaten on the run, a community hunted
by their own and by the alien government.
I miss my own church, by now gathered in a dark
sanctuary, participating in ancient rituals
we don’t fully understand, looking for that thin
place between the sacred and the every day.

No comments: