I'm blown away by the size of the project, the hospital in general, the mission to serve -- about all else -- the inmates of the county jails and the indigent and the non-english speaking poor, and all the rest of us that the statue of liberty still welcomes (i think). This place is a long way down the red road from "small steps" and "one person at a time". You can't have machine that bring back people's breathing and electrical currents with that kind of change. I think. Maybe.
So that still says nothing about chaplaincy and this experience and that's probably because I feel too green to do anything. So instead I'm going to share some passages I've read in the past few weeks. Some offerings I shared with fellow chaplains and fellow patients, during prayers and reflections, ministries of presence and compassion. They all run together towards their true nature as one.
That's perhaps the only surety I have in all this -- that separation from our true nature, our true nation, what I can, in my little jargon, the "One Love" -- is illness. And in that sense we are not well -- perhaps joyously and aware -- we are separated from our true selves, we are sick, we are in a giant late capitalist hospital. It's with that understanding that I record the gospel raps of brothers in the psych ward and hold the hands of recovering crack addicts crying about our future. It's only that handspun cord that makes all the shaking and tears and prayer make sense and not jumble.
So there's that. Johnny Cash whistles in the background.
1) from Neruda's _Hands of Day_
From so many rough hands
descended the tool,
even the famous curve
of the hip that then pursued
the whole woman with its design!
The hand that forms
the wineglass of the form,
it conveys the pregnancy of the barrel
and the lunar line of the bell.
I ask some mighty hands
to help me
change the profile of the planets:
the traveler needs:
constellations like cold dice
of square clarity:
those hands that extract
secret rivers fro Antofagasta
until the water rectifies
its avarice lost in the desert.
I want all the hands of men
to knead mountains
of bread and to gather
all the fish from the sea,
all the olives
from the olive tree,
all the love not yet wakened
and to leave a gift
in each of the hands
of the day.
2) from Wendell Berry's _The Unsettling of America_
Some prominent agricultural economists are still finidng it possible to pretend that the only issues involved are economic, but that possiblity is diminishing. I recently attended a meeting at which an agricultural economist argued that there is no essential difference between owning and renting a farm. A farmer stood up in the audience and replied: "Professor, I don't think our ancestors came to Ameirca in order to rent a farm."