What a strange week it has been in so many ways. And yet, in some ways, the strangeness feels familiar. Here I'm thinking the news of the FBI raid and classified documents hundreds of miles from where they should be stored, in the possession of Donald Trump in Florida--in some ways, it seems unprecedented, and in other ways, I shrug and say, "Of course it goes this way." Traces of polio in the NY sewer system? Of course it goes this way.
All yesterday, my brain returned to Salman Rushdie, who was attacked on Friday night by a man with a knife. Yesterday morning, the news came that he was on a ventilator, and I dreaded where this story was headed. But this morning, he's speaking. Still, his injuries are so severe that in some ways, it seems shocking. Yet in others, it seems like the logical outgrowth of the times we live in--and a fearsome road sign. How does this trajectory end? In armed civil war, as in the nineteenth century in so many countries? Or with more of us taking more precautions of all kinds?
As I thought about Rushdie, about attacks on artists, my thoughts drifted to my own work. While my mean inner voice sneered that I needn't worry, my rational brain thought about my work that would challenge those of a traditional Christian faith . . . or those with a traditional view of gender . . . or those with specific views of what should be taught in the classroom. While most of us won't face the kind of severe threat that Rushdie has faced (hopefully we won't), we are none of us as safe as we might think we are.
I have been getting back to poetry writing, after a season of being mostly away--in part because of my broken wrist, in part because of moving. Three weeks ago, these lines came to me as I thought about my spouse and myself and the ways that we have such different interests and how it can be hard for me to understand his approach and how he might be baffled at my midlife shift to seminary:
He's never seen a wall
he didn't dream of moving.
She rewrites every sacred text.
I thought these lines might make a good poem, and I tried. That approach went nowhere in the first incarnation.
But as I read updates and tweets and posts from the Churchwide Assembly* for the ELCA (which is the group of moderate, mainstream Lutherans which is one of my current worshipping preferences), my poem went a different direction and became something more interesting. I had a glimpse of it and wrote this tweet:"Wrestling with a poem that will include this line: 'She rewrites every sacred text.' It will include chickens and drying herbs and a churchwide meeting in a far away place. And some sort of art with fabric."