A New Psalm

            for the 20th Anniversary of Bridgeport UCC 1998-2018

 Do you think I know what I’m doing?

That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?

As much as a pen knows what it’s writing

Or the ball can guess where it’s going next.

~ Jelahuddin Rumi [1]

 

They asked her to do church differently.

So, the Word was Revised

and the Messenger was Mary,

“One day you finally knew

What you had to do and began…” [2]

Do you think I know what I’m doing?

Yes, they agreed:

            the curious

            the wounded

the sinners

the seekers

the fallible

            and the discontent

all God's children, wonderfully made:

            the chosen ones

            the delivered

            the pacifists and warriors

            the black, the brown

            the young, the old

            the men, the women

            and all those in between.

They came together under one roof.

            First to one house

            then to one school

            to one room

            and finally to an empty white church

                        that they painted a hopeful yellow.

 

And they filled the pews until the “they” became a “we”

and the Word was Rumi:

We are “folded into union

as the split-second when the bat meets the ball

and there is one cry between us.”[3]

Do you think I know what I’m doing?

As much as the ball can guess where it’s going.

She said, “Believe the good news of the gospel.

And as fallible as we are, we are no mistake.”

So we began to make a bridge and a port

            for the lonely

            the questioning

            the marginalized

            the other.

Again, the Word was Rumi:

“If you’ve not been fed, be bread.”[4]

So we made bread

and soup

protest signs

and gardens

            we made silk banners dyed with daffodils

            and we made music, so much music.

“We are clay,” we sang

until the “we” became I.

And as fallible as I am

I am no mistake?

And I am loved unconditionally?

And I am welcome at your table?

And I matter?

I sang “Testify to Love” until “I” became “you”

and you sang “…like eagle that Sunday morning…

To pray you open your whole self

To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon

To one whole voice that is you...”[5]

 

Do you think I know what I’m doing?

She said, “Be responsible, but carry no guilt.

Be mindful, but carry no shame.”

And again the Word was Mary:

“You do not have to be good

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.”[6]

And again the Word was Rumi:

“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there”[7]

as fallible as you are

because you are no mistake

 

and you are loved unconditionally by God

            Beloved

            Creator

            One.

 

Time passed.

And the Word was Mark, “…there are no wrong turns,

only unexpected paths.” [8]

The “you” became “they”

and they found courage for renewal.

He said, “Bridgeport?  Yes!”

and the “they” became “we” again.


Time passed

then she said, “We are the church.”
We are the right and the wrong

            the pain and the balm

            the shouts and the song.

We are the death and the resurrection

            the thorn and the bloom

the soil and the seed that will sustain us.

We are peace where there is war

            and we are a sanctuary where there is none.

We are the church

and “We are God’s children, wonderfully made.

As fallible as we are, we are no mistake.

Be responsible, but carry no guilt.

Be mindful, but carry no shame.

Believe the good news of the gospel —

you are loved unconditionally by God.

May the peace of Christ be with you.”[9]

 

 ~Wendy Thompson, 6/10/2018

 

References:

[1] all Rumi references translated by Coleman Barks in Open Secret: Versions of Rumi

[2] The Journey by Mary Oliver

[3] Folded Into the River by Rumi

[4] The Image of Your Body by Rumi

[5] Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo

[6] Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

[7] #158 by Rumi

[8] The Book of Awakening  by Mark Nepo

[9] Affirmation of Humanness by The Reverend Doctor Susan Leo