At the Corner of Yonge and Damascus

Palm pressed palm and he
blessed me, this man
on Yonge Street, neat despite
the sidewalk for his throne,
concrete his castle, and
the empty cup gilded with
quarters, dimes and nickels
his scepter. He
looked up and said,
“My name is Paul,” and
I though I
saw Damascus
in his eyes.

A Blessing for Pilgrims for Indigenous Rights

Friends, I was asked to provide a blessing for some pilgrims walking from Kitchener to Ottawa in support of Bill C 262, which requests the implementation in Canada of the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for truth and reconciliation, as per the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s report. This pilgrimage has been organized by the Mennonite Church Canada. My blessing followed upon a traditional sending by Myeengun Henry, an Ojibway elder in our city. The text for it follows:

God bless you in this journey of justice and peace.

May your feet feel each treaty
Holding you as you cross its reach,
Sustaining you as you walk in a good way.

May your ears be ready to hear
The stories sown in the territory you
Traverse step by step.

May your hearts beat in time with
Our Mother, the Earth
Who watches over you
In love, in delight.

May your minds be as one
In the community you are
On the way to truth and reconciliation.

And may you know

That your knowing is first being known.

And your loving is first being loved.

And your passion for justice and peace

Is first and finally God’s Reign in your midst.

God be above you, below you , behind you, beside you, before you and within you – as Holy Flame; as Sacred Word.

Blessed Inversion

Last week it was my turn to lead the Wednesday afternoon “Open Door” service in Keffer Chapel at the seminary where I work. Instead of using the prayers in our denominational worship book I wrote my own, as I do from time to time. For those so interested, I include here for your edification (I hope!) a part of the liturgy called the “proper preface.” This prayer arrives a step or two ahead of the words recounting Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. The prayer typically speaks of God’s majesty. In this instance, I speak of the majesty of God from the perspective of the beatitudes in order to underscore God who sides with the least, the lost, and the broken. Without further adieu (!), my offering:

It is indeed our duty and delight that we should praise you, Holy God of power and might;

God of humility, God of suffering love;
God crossing barbed fence, God jeered,God mirrored
in the faces of children bereft of parents,
God spoken in the cries of the dejected, the rejected,
the refuse of the earth; God with us in both hell and heaven too,

where we laud you with angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim as we sing you Holy.