on bound wrists

November 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , , )

My wrist is bound by lines and strokes of an ancient language. The form of these letters call what is not into being. The words speak to the Word. In the beginning was the word; In the beginning….God. The earth, formless and empty, darkness over the surface of the deep. The Word with God. The Word: God.

God said.

God-Word. Words-Formed. Form-Created. Spoken forth; spoken form.

These words, wrapped ever-round my wrist, are my hoped for spoken-form spoken forth. My mantra. The sounds, the words capable of “creating transformation”. Not because of any power they possess in themselves but because the Word in me can breathe them into life. In my life. They are the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.

שלום. This  shalom around my wrist, this peace, is not merely the absence of war or discord. It is not marked by what it is not. It is defined by what is present.  This shalom is wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony.  It is rich and deep. This shalom is life complete and perfect. Paid in full, life to the full. Creation as it was created to be when the Word spoke and there was light. Created restored to Creation. Creation restored to the Creator. The word speaks to the Word. He himself is our Shalom, who has made the two one, destroying the dividing wall of hostility. God reconciles us to himself through this Shalom. We are given the same vocation of reconciliation. This God-Word is given as our mantle, our mantra. It becomes the meditation of our heart, the words of our mouth, capable of creating transformation as the Word, Shalom, breathes us into life to the full, into shalom. These words, this shalom around my wrist, reminds me to seek life-to-the-full – the redemption and reconciliation – of, for and in the places I find myself, because in its shalom I find Shalom.

צדק. This tzedek around my wrist, this justice, is not merely the absence of corruption or oppression. It is not marked by what is not. It is defined by what is present. This tzedek is right standing,  righteousness, generosity, equity, concern, mercy,  reparation, restoration and redemption. It is rich and deep. This tzedek is a life of right relationships. Righteous, relationship to the full. Creation as it was created to be when the Word spoke. Created restored to Creation. Creation restored to the Creator. The word speaks to the Word. He himself is our Tzedek, our justice, our Righteousness rolling down like rivers, like an ever-flowing stream. God maintains our cause, acting justly and mercifully toward us. We are are given the same vocation of justice. This God-Word is given as our mantle, our mantra. It becomes the meditation of our heart, the words of our mouth, capable of creating transformation as the Word, Tzedek, breathes us into right relationships, into tzedek. These words, this tzedek around my wrist, reminds me to seek relationships enacted in fairness, generosity and equity. To pursue justice and love mercy. To pursue reparation and restoration of, for and in the relationships I find myself a part of.

My wrist is bound by lines and strokes of an ancient language. The form of these letters call what is not into being. The words speak to the Word. These words, wrapped ever-round my wrist, are my hoped for spoken-form spoken forth. My mantra. The sounds, the words capable of creating transformation. Not because of any power they possess in themselves but because the Word in me can breathe them into life. In my life. They are the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.These words bound as symbols on my hand remind me not just to be peaceful and to be just but to do shalom and do tzedek. To seek to enact the wholeness, harmony, and fullness of life given through Christ and to pursue right standing, fairness, generosity and equity in all my relationships and spheres of life. 

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1 Comment

  1. Some thoughts from Spaghetti conversations [with Val ‘tbV’ Anderson] | Irresistibly Fish said,

    […] The idea is simple: gather good people around good food and good discussion and see what happens. So we did. We turned off technology and tuned in to people. It was messy and it was chaotic, it was painful and it was personal and it was powerful. It was raw and it was redemptive. Some of us ate spaghetti with a spoon cos we ran out of cutlery. We sat on the floor and on stools and really close to each other – three people thigh to thigh on a chair made for two. We talked and told stories, argued and challenged, wrestled and sat in silence – the good kind and the uncomfortable kind. We left with heads and hearts aching, but full. Here’s some of what I learnt: 1. White privilege is less about access to “stuff” and more about access to choices or, in Sen’s theorizing, capabilities – the real opportunities of being and doing available to attain well-being. Here’s an example: consider a priest who is fasting and a man in a famine-stricken country who is starving. The key element in determining a person’s well-being here is not whether both are experiencing hunger, but whether the person has access to food and is choosing not to eat. The functioning is starving but the capability to obtain an adequate amount of food is the key element in evaluating well-being between these two individuals. Having a lifestyle is not the same as choosing it; well-being depends on how that lifestyle came to be. Here’s another example. Consider a bike as a commodity which enables the functioning of mobility. Personal, social and environmental conversion factors impact an individual’s ability to convert the commodity (the bike) into functioning (getting from A to B).  If a person is physically disabled, never learnt to ride a bike, if women are not allowed to ride bikes, or if there are no roads, then a person’s capacity to convert the potential of the bike into movement is limited. It’s not enough to give someone a bike if they don’t have the ability, the capacity, the enabling conditions to ride it in a way that moves them forward (or if they don’t have access to a pump, if they cannot take the bike out without being physically threatened by a mugging, etc) 2. In a post-industrial/post-agricultural world, we believe that we too are living in the Information Age, where the primary means of production is Knowledge and the accumulation of knowledge (i.e. education) is the means by which individuals access livelihood, opportunity, resource, jobs etc. I simply don’t believe this is true in South Africa. I wonder if perhaps we are actually in the Age of Connection. Knowledge might be power, but it’s less about what you know and more about who you know. The primary means of production might be Social Capital – the contacts and connections which enable us to network, navigate and negotiate the economic landscape. Perhaps education is the capability, but the functioning is all about social capital – it’s the people we know, the professional contacts, the personal networks that enable us to actualize opportunity. White privilege is at its core all about social capital. 3. While I can sympathize with the pain and anger of black friends, I don’t think I can actually empathize. I can show compassion for, seek to understand, commiserate with, experience anger on behalf of but I can never really experience “from within another’s frame of reference”. As one of our guests so rightly pointed out “We do not and cannot experience EQUAL frustration. You had a choice.” 4. I need to shut up more. Perhaps one of our greatest failings as white people in South Africa is our inability to sit in silence. When we listen to the voices of our black brothers/sisters expressing pain, anger, frustration, or simply sharing their experience, we want to immediately question, clarify, push-back, argue, dissect, debate, wrestle, show the other side, point out the discrepancies or inconsistencies, locate within the “larger picture”, propose solutions, and find “action steps”. We don’t know how to sit – just SIT – with a rage that fills a room, sucks all the air from it, and leaves our friends shaking. We have ears but do not hear, and eyes but do not see. 5. Reconciliation is not the path towards Justice but rather Justice is the path towards Reconciliation. Until and unless Justice has been enacted we can not experience right relationship. (Thanks, Nkosi!) [To read more reflections from the other guests, click here] [For more from tbV, like this piece explaining her tattoo, click here] […]

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