Week 3: Tables and Bones

As I grappled with my call last week, it helped to articulate a vision of the reign of God… el reino de Dios.  The song that is playing in my head is “vamos todos,” by Guillermo Cullear. He composed the misa salvadoreña.

The chorus is:

Vamos todos al banquete, / we all come to the feast
A la mesa de la creación, / at the table of creation
Cada cual con su taburete, / each with their stool/chair
Tiene un puesto y una misión. / each having a place and a misión.

We intoned this song at every meal while I lived as part of Casa Ita, one of the intentional community houses in El Salvador as part of a spring semester with Casa. The words are largely inspired by el pueblo salvadoreño and the preaching of the martyred Rutilio Grande, SJ.

I envision a big ol’ feast around a well-worn table. One leg might be a bit wobbly, but that is okay. The food is delectable and homey, all dietary needs are accounted for, and candles are lit. The chairs are mismatched, yet comfortable, and there is ample time, an abundance of time. No one is in a rush to eat and the leftovers are plated up for others to share with their extended family. Everyone is asked to bring 1-2 guests so that the table keeps expanding, and people take turns leading a reflection – whether a poem, a song, a piece of sacred text. there are sign-up sheets on the sideboard table where people can offer childcare for families,  skill shares, exchanging of books and recipes,  a petition to protect undocumented migrants in our community, organizing rides to and from a march, collecting donations for a local mutual aid project, making a meal train for a family with a sick household member, all of the above. Sustenance in community, prophetic action, and radical hospitality. This is how I envision the reign of God.

I envision house church, where all is held in common (Acts 2:42-47), where people are paid just wages, where families actually get family leave without penalty and the fragile Earth is not an afterthought. There is so much power in that excerpt from the Acts of the Apostles:

  • Things are held in common! There is a generosity of spirit! There is dignity in work and shared labor
  • People’s needs are met – we hold the answers we seek, collectively
  • People ate food together, and it was holy; people worshipped and praised
  • There was a gladness, an inner joy that radiates

My pulse quickens. Sensation moves from my whole body when I read this passage to the part of my brain that wonders, analyzes and has been conditioned throughout my life to distrust and dismiss the wisdom of bodies – of my own and of the wider body of Christ.

What will this demand of me? What are the “practical” concerns? How am I going to have health insurance? What must be let go of? What might I hold more gently? What will my family think? What are ways this vision is already incarnate, in the here and now? What is God asking of me at this moment in history? Who is with me? What about those yearning for a partner, for a family of my own? How can this be multiracial, multilingual, and ecumenical?

This vision catches in my throat –And yet, this church.

This church celebrates and centers BODIES (at its best! Just consider the Eucharist! Broken, blessed, poured out, Do this in remembrance of me). We are all bags of bones on this earth, of all sizes and shapes and abilities and colors and races and desires. These bodies are whole and holy and skin and flesh that reflect God’s love. Jesus lived in a body, learning and loving and inviting others to do the same, communally.

As I prayed with Ezekiel 37 this week, the image and sense of place that remain with me is the following:

Even with dry bones, those same dry bones contain bone marrow. There is something miraculous and beyond my comprehension. There are cells multiplying (so I don’t actually know what happens in marrow, but do you catch my drift?) and life and blood pumping. Even in the desert and amongst the dry bones, the bones somehow manage to join together. God animates them. I want to be a part of that animating work. I envision God moving through me, a vessel, a “little pencil” in the hand of God (attributed to Mother Teresa).

Habakkuk 2:3 “For the vision is for its appointed time, it hastens towards its end and it will not lie; although it may take some time, wait for it, for come it certainly will before too long.

6 thoughts on “Week 3: Tables and Bones

  1. Lisa, your imagery is beautiful. I imagine be welcomed at this table just as I am and feeling a powerful sense of belonging. El Salvador is holy ground for visioning a renewed church.

  2. I resonate deeply with the “practical concerns” you name, and and inspired by your courage to look beyond them. As your post moved away from those concerns to name with passion the Body of Christ I see that our God is not a practical one. It doesn’t make sense that these bones should come alive but they do!

  3. Lisa,

    I feel so privileged to be in your group. I find your passion motivating and captivating. As I said, I long to be at your table.Your vision is inspiring. My only questions are: Where are you at the table? Where would you want to be? Is the Pope at the table as well? What would you do if he were? How would that change the way you host the meal or would engaging in this simply change him?

  4. Lisa, I loved sitting at the table. It reminds me of the Old Testament Trinity too, God around the table, and quickly beckoning in anybody who approaches to sit down, relax for a minute, eat some good food. The details that you share also reminded me of a wonderful university minister at Regis who helped bring me back into active, practicing faith…after all of the work done to plan an event, some of it very “official” on the university level, Kristi would always pack up the leftovers! The food was sacred and earthy and she treated it that way. It sanctified the catering. I see this kind of passionate practicality in you.

    Reading between the lines, I hear something here that you want but you are feeling afraid of. I don’t know what it is, but it has something to do with potentially losing health insurance, and your family being uncertain of your well-being as you pursue the gospel in that way. Also it seems to do with a fear of trusting the body, your body, and your call to ministry at the same time? And there is a longing you mentioned for a partner, and children of your own, and not sure how that would fit into this? I hope you bring these things in prayer to God. God is so at your table. 🙂

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