Mother Christ

I’m writing this post as part of something exciting called a synchroblog. Truth be told, I am not awfully sure how it works, but I know that a lot of people are writing under a similar theme and at some point all of our blog posts will be linked together by Anarchist Reverend. How groovy!

Anyway.

The other day my friend Peterson Toscano helped me knock the following poem into shape. When I sat down to write the final draft this evening I felt like he had heard the poem I was trying to write in the middle of so much noise (the resounding gongs of overworked metaphors, explaining too much, repeating myself…)

And that is what religion is like for me too. It doesn’t really exist apart from the connections I have with other people  who can see the shape of my faith as I try to figure it out. For me, it is often queer artists, activists and theologians, who seem to know me in their work. I think the stories I write are sometimes an attempt to explain how that happens. And so I will leave you with this poem. Thanks so much to Shay for his wonderful blog, and to Peterson for his help.

Once,

The son of God wept

Over his city.

Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

You who kill,

How often I have longed to gather your children

As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,

But you were not willing.

 

Dear Jesus,

Let me gather you now

And speak as your mother.

I hear your longing,

And I am sad for you.

You do not realise who you are.

How mother you are.

Oh Jesus,

A mother hides her children under her skirts,

She hides her children within her body,

The way I hid you in my heart,

So deeply sometimes that I forgot you belonged to me.

When someone is under your skin,

You can forget them, sometimes,

As you forget your own body,

Like looking in a glass darkly

And wondering, who is that woman?

You wonder where your children are-

Who is their mother?

They called you a king.

So many people needed you.

Sometimes I forget how you came to be that man.

That is all it was, that pain of yours,

It was simply something that you had forgotten.

But I want to tell you about your children, Jesus.

In the moment of your death;

The advent of the world’s greatest forgetting.

The curtain of the temple, torn in two,

From top to bottom,

Like a heart,

Breaking.

And instead of finding themselves

Joyfully, in the emptiness

Beyond the thick drapes,

The people were frightened,

By the absence of the God they had imagined.

So they took the beautiful fabric of that story

And pieced together something unintended,

A costume dress for you, my son.

They clothed you

In their desires.

They ducked beneath your skirts

Clinging together,

Pretending.

You see,

They forgot themselves in the dark.

They forgot their mother Christ,

As God turned his back on God,

Because they could no longer see your bearded face.

They slept deeply in your death

And felt, as one body, unrecognisable to themselves,

And they wondered who they were,

And where was their mother?

In the tomb of quiet forgetting

Those who are chained to your death

Dream in shadows and cannot form questions.

Yet

The egg cracks.

The dress they sewed for you lies formless.

A woman sees you break out of the cave;

Our soft mother God,

Set free, in the body of a gardener.

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15 comments

  1. That’s beautiful, Shirley. I especially like the line “so deeply sometimes that I forgot you belonged to me”; that was like an arrow right in the heart. I was raised Catholic and grapple with religion a lot in my own work. I will definitely be bookmarking this one and thinking about it more. Thank you for sharing it — see you on Twitter!

    1. Ooh thanks JC. I will be looking for your work too then! You might enjoy some of the other synchroblog posts as well. I’ll be linking to it when it’s up. x

  2. Thank you for sharing. I currently feel very distant from Jesus. So much talk of death and atonement. I’m walking a labyrinth and unclear of what my intent is and what I want when I reach the center.

    1. I think I know what you mean, and thank you for sharing as well. Are you familiar with James Alison’s thoughts on atonement? I really like the way that he looks at it- it’s very different to anything I heard growing up and to me it makes more sense and gets rid of the problematic notion of a loving God who would turn away their own son. The focus is more on how societies function- OUR need to punish, the idea being that in Jesus’ death we have the ultimate spotlight shone on how we survive by making scapegoats, so that we can question ourselves and perhaps think of another way to do things. That’s my understanding of it anyway… The book I had was called ‘Undergoing God’ and it’s pretty dense but if you’re in a theologizing mood it’s worth looking out.

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