One of my favorite contemporary poems is Shake the Dust, by Iranian-American Anis Mojgani. You can watch the entire poem on YouTube here.
The poem which was introduced to me by Bishop Prior speaks I believe to the passages from the Gospel of being sent into the world, sharing your peace, and if your peace is not returned, shake the dust, and move on. The poem encourages us to be in the world, scary as it might be. Here is an excerpt.
Make my words worth it. Make this not just another poem that I write. Not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all – walk into it. Breathe it in. Let it crash through the halls of your arms, like the millions of years and millions of poets that course like blood, pumping and pushing, making you live, making you live, shaking the dust, so when the world knocks at your door, turn the knob and open on up, and run into its big, big hands with open arms. (Shake the Dust, by Anis Mojgani)
At the recent Bishops Meeting via ZOOM Presiding Bishop Curry spoke of the Covid period we live in. The feelings of loss and lament, anger and fear, pain and frustration.
“We are living in a narthex moment, between the world we knew and whatever is being born,”
He spoke of reformation in the church: before collusion with the empire, the church that looks something like Jesus, the church that lived into ‘narthex,’ to let go of the ways things were, to behold the way things could be.” Curry continued that such a church would be “not formed in the way of the world but formed in the way of Jesus and his love.”
“A community of small gatherings and congregations of all stripes and types, a human tapestry, God’s wondrous variety, the Kingdom, the reign of God, the beloved community, no longer centered on empire or establishment, no longer fixated on the preservation of institution, no longer propping up white supremacy or in collusion with anything that hurts or harms any child of God or God’s creation – by God’s grace, a church that looks and acts and lives like Jesus. “Welcome to narthex, and welcome to behold a new heaven, a new Earth, a new you, a new me, a new we.”
I am outraged at the recent events in Texas at our border, and the despicable treatment of Haitian people being chased on horseback by US Border Patrol Agents. We all know too well our complicit history with the destruction of the island home of the Haitian Peoples through the misuse of land on behalf of the fruit gum, banana, and sugar industries. We all know our responsibility in the chaos that overwhelms Central America and the Caribbean Islands. To be clear, we created the issues we are confronted with on our borders.
It is a perplexing issue that we on one hand rush to accept refugees from Afghanistan and at the same time use horses to force Haitian onto airplanes to fly them back to Haiti, when many of them left and have waited for a decade.
As Bishop Curry and Anis Mojgani both suggest, it is time to shake the dust, to let go of the way things are and behold the way they might be. The world is knocking at our door, and it is time to be the church, to confront the evil in the world, to do no harm to any of God’s creation and live like Jesus.
Behold a new heaven, a new earth, a new you, and a new we. (Bp Curry)
Go in Peace, to Love and Serve.