St John of the Cross poked me in the ribs one day and said ‘To come to a knowledge of what you are not, you must go by a way you are not.’
Who am I not?
I am not the homeless man outside my chapel
I am not the man telling me off because he wants to pray,
I am not the wood holding my altar together
I am not the man with compassion and endless time
I am not the generous giver with endless riches
I am not the man who can make a difference.
But St John sits on my shoulder
Strumming his cross of lead and singing
‘This is the way of Not, death becomes you.’
What I can’t control, becomes me.
What I can’t understand emboldens me.
What I can’t pigeonhole, deconstructs me.
What I can’t complete in my name, destruct in my name,
Is God to me.
I need you stinking person who frightens me.
I need you atheist, agnostic, man, woman and child
I need you bricks and mortar, inorganic matter that matters to me,
I need you philistine who deplores art
I need you blood bother, blood sister, (though not of my blood)
I need you wind and rain, (though I secretly curse you under foot)
I need you despotic leader,
Who I am tempted to hate, (and perhaps actually do hate)
I need you people who are not me
People I don’t like
Can’t relate to
Don’t want to embrace
Can’t be bothered with.
You are not me,
But you beget God to me
Through difference Jesus embraced humanity
Through indifference they nail him to the tree
Through difference he revealed himself,
Embracing those who were ‘not’
Not allowed to be themselves, not allowed to ‘be’ at all
Not allowed to be embraced, not allowed to be loved
Murdered with religious chatter
Hurled into pits of stinking woe
Hated for being wrong
Wrong colour, wrong shape, wrong sexuality
And hated still.
But I need you
Gay man, straight man
Gay woman, straight woman
Gay priest, no priest,
No religion, any religion!
Conservative, liberal, general, specific,
Figures of ridicule, figures of hate,
People who I am ‘not’
You bring me to a place I am ‘not’
You draw God out of me
Drawing him out of every pore
Turning every stone into bread
And every water into wine.
Come unto me you opposites!
I need you so bad.
Come unto me you agnostics!
I rejoice in your unknowing
Come unto me you colossal failures!
Your brokenness allows the light to seep through
and illuminate my God-becoming self.
Come all ye roving minstrels
And lead me to my deathbed
So that I can be born again
But every day I must die to self
And rise again
to embrace another day
To embrace another human being
To embrace another pariah
To embrace my inner Christ.