Today

So this evening I was walking home and I caught myself thinking “Man, it’s been a while since I’ve had a gun pointed at me…” Of course, the rest of the way home I was all about keeping my eyes open, sure that even thinking such thoughts was a karmic shout-out asking to have guns pointed at me, or even in my general direction. But, even with such irresponsible thoughts, I made it home with no problems. It is a funk-party night, so you’re supposed to be prepared for anything… and believe me, I was. It was almost a let down that it was such a normal night.

—–

This evening as we were leaving the streets, one of the older women who gathers cardboard to recycle appeared with several sturdy cardboard boxes that hadn’t been broken down and were filled with styrofoam. They slowly transmogrified from giant building blocks to acrobatic helpers to ammunition in an all-out box war. Imagine five young kids (ages 3-14) throwing computer monitor boxes (and anything else made of cardboard they could find) at Rich and myself (and us throwing them back) next to a mountain of trash collected from the restaurants further down the street, still teeming with people having a beer after work on a Friday night, samba groups roaming through the tables streaming out into the road… and really, who doesn’t love a box war?

—–

A friend has clued me in to a website called “Prayers and Creeds” – a site which posts daily prayers from Scripture, desert fathers, contemporary theologians, and other diverse voices… There’s some beautiful, thought-provoking words that can be found there. I also found the following prayer there – it may be one of my new favorites…

Ipsissimia Verba?

(by Muriel McNair)

You are the salt of the earth.
Gather it together in heaps lest it be polluted;
keep it in the jar.
Let society rot in its sin and be redolent in its putrefaction
the saints pristine in their whiteness shall be gathered together as a memorial pillar to me.

You are the light of the world.
Guard it carefully lest the darkness puts it out.
Build a beautiful shrine for the lamp of God
where it may be kept safe for you to admire.
Do not take it out into the storm to look for the lost:
the wind might blow it out.
Let the lost look out for themselves
– if they are lucky they will see the chinks of light through the shutters and try to come in.

You shall be my witnesses,
so witness faithfully, on Sundays, come what may, and at as many meetings as you can
give money, make long prayers, sing hymns, and listen to sound sermons.
Teach my lambs, in particular, to get their priorities right
and keep the fold nice and tidy:
then it will be easy to find you when I come back, already gathered
from the rest
and glorifying God in your holiness.

You are my body.
Treat it gently, keep it warm,
make sure it gets enough to eat and lives respectably.
Keep it out of politics of course and the crush of the common people.
Avoid confrontation with the realities of evil.
One crucifixion was enough.

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5 Comments

Filed under calvin and hobbes, favela, prayers, satire, streets

5 responses to “Today

  1. Anonymous

    ben,
    what is the deal with this prayer? it sounds sarcastic, but never comes out and solidifies that it means the opposite!?! huh?

    anne : )

  2. ben

    mmm… yeah. a little subtlety. i had to read it a couple of times… but i’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be taken and read sarcastically…

    how we tame and soften Jesus’ words so that things are safer, more comfortable, and easier. how i do that…

    and this is, to me, a reminder NOT to be that way…

    thoughts?

  3. Anonymous

    Ben – I am using this satirical poem for our small group. We are studying NO PERFECT PEOPLE ALLOWED. What does the title of the poem mean? I couldn’t get a definite Babelfish translation. -Laurie Pashley

  4. ben

    Laurie –

    I actually didn’t know as well. so i looked on wikipedia. apparently it is a legal term meaning ‘the very words’, or the exact words – usually an “established authority that the writer is quoting or referring to”.

    who knew?

    we missed having you down here with gene – but it was fun to have him visit. hope the study goes well…

  5. Roger Saner

    @ben: thanks for linking to “Prayers and Creeds”! A few of us in South Africa (and one American) are keeping it updated.

    I posted the poem you refer to – and yes, it’s meant to be taken ironically, with a little bit of sting too – aimed at what happens when Christians “church-ify” and stop looking beyond their doors.

    I got it from a friend of mine but couldn’t find an online source. I don’t know what the title means. I’m glad it’s been used to stimulate some thinking, as it’s done for me 🙂

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