About Me

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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Summarizing the Faith

This is also on episcopal cafe, where the discussion links to other people's personal summaries of Christian faith -- please feel free to add yours here.

Verna Dozier
is known for saying that every Christian should be able to tell the story of the faith in 10 minutes or less. Sometimes people call that out of us. Recently more than one friend has asked me some version of the question “What does the Crucifixion mean? The question was asked in an email (I can’t actually remember from whom, now – and I never answered it.) Stumbling in prose, but haunted by the question, thought I’d lean imaginatively into the question, see what would come out in verse – with line-breaks providing space to ponder. I’m not really sure about the quality of what follows as “great poetry,” but it does offer a crack at the that question, one which perhaps other CafĂ© readers have been asked at one time or another. Here’s my try at a response.

Stumbling Credo
(lines written in response to a friend who asked me, as if she thought I would know, “What does the Crucifixion mean, anyway?”)

The world is broken: there’s no doubt
About that part. People are cruel and violent
And the ones who are in power
Religious or imperial – they know
Their power rests on privilege, and fear

And yet there is, beneath it all, a love that is for all
That calls us home to ancient faithfulness
And gives the dispossessed a voice, a place, a grounded life.
It seems such love cannot prevail, when those in power
Who profit from the broken world, create a reign of fear.

But when that love, which has a human face
Cannot endure to see how people harm each other
He comes to be among us, shares the fate
Of those the most oppressed and says –
You are all God’s people: rich and poor, in and out
You are all so greatly beloved.

So stop this now. Repent, he says to all
Change your way of life. Love one another, and resist
The rule of those who lord it over others. Refuse to fear.

Such love, it seems, cannot survive
In this broken world
Where love incarnate comes to live among us
So his own leaders work together with
The rulers of the age. Call him a traitor
Kill and torture him,
And crucify: the punishment of traitors.

They can crucify the man, but they cannot kill
The love he bears and is, nor can anything
Blot out this love,
The Love that has has suffered
The worst that power and rage could then inflict.
The suffering is real. The love persists, And so
He rises from the dead, to say
Look: you canot kill it.

He comes back to his closest friends, and says again
I am the way – follow me, and I will set you free
In this world, love is bound to suffer
But bear it, and love will teach you to live
Together, be my people – my friends, and I
Will do great things for you.

Do not be afraid: Sin will not stand. The victory
Has already been won.
It is possible to live another way: follow me.
Do not be afraid
The work I brought is already begun
There is a way, it is still real
The promise that this broken world can be made whole
Available to love.
There is still a Way.