Okay. So this ugly thing happened in my class today, “Feminist & Womanist Perspectives on Pastoral Theology”. Instead of opening with prayer, one of my classmates thought it was a good idea to send around paper copies of this email fwd, a joke, and then she read it for us.
I spent the next 90 minutes processing it, my eyes leaking and my red ultra-fine tip sharpie scratching across the page, writing poetry because it just wasn’t safe for me to knit any longer. Now, I’ll grant you that much of my angst came ready made from an earlier difficult encounter in the day, but not all of it.
Behind the cuts, the very short and exceedingly questionable email, and my processing through this stuff poetry. After class was over (three hours later) someone else told her how difficult they found it to hear, how it really hurt them. I’m glad they did, because I’m not sure I could have done it in a helpful way.
The email forward, the anti-prayer
THE LONELY BRAIN CELL
Once upon a time there was a female brain cell which, by mistake, happened to end up in a man’s head. She looked around nervously because it was all empty and quiet.
“Hello?” she cried, but no answer. “Is there anyone here?” she cried a little louder, but still no answer. Now the female brain cell started to feel alone and scared and yelled at the top of her voice, “HELLO, IS THERE ANYONE HERE?”
Then she heard a faint voice from far, far away… “We’re down here…”
End email forward
“Written In Blood”
Red, for the blood that runs through my veins
Red, the color we share
Male, female, right, left, queer, straight, black, white
From: “Someone You Care About”
To: “You”; [And So Many Others]
Subject: FWD: So funny! So fucking funny!
My muses are in utter revolt
I am ashamed, and I take on the shame
Standing in solidarity
My nephews, innocent
My ex-boyfriends, teachers
My best friend,
The ones who keep me sane
Why don’t I think your joke is funny?
I stare at my lap in shock
Many laughing around me
There is tension here, or it wouldn’t be funny
There is a percieved weakness
So let’s pierce our spear in its side
While we’re at it, fashion the crown of thorns
Let’s wash our hands and say ‘not my fault’
Let’s say sorry first, get it out of the way, then crucify them
Does it make it okay? Is Pontius Pilate
Off the hook? Nicea had an opinion.
You’ve said sorry, are you off the hook?
Does it make it okay? Are you okay?
Accuse them of lacking the necessary
Intelligence, Ability. Inherent lack.
You’d be aflame – Red, red flame –
Righteous Indignation, if it were about women.
If it were about a black man.
If it were about a gay girl.
You’d be foaming at the mouth.
I’d be foaming with you, in solidarity.
Red. We have it in common.
In this class!
In this church!
With our God!
How DARE you be so mean? So callous?
How dare you do the thing you hate?
How dare I?
How dare I be silent? How dare I calculate
Ditches to die in while my heart breaks open?
How dare I? Silently outraged, afriad, cowed,
Daunted by the laughter, the assumption
That it’s okay?
Why is it that my vulnerability is the thing
God asks me to offer? What if I don’t want to?
What if I am scared? I know God’s way is better.
Better, better, better. Better than my way.
But it hurts so much. Makes me reel like
A drunk. Like Hannah.
Are you sure?
Is this what Jesus said in the garden?
And then there was the thing that got me to stop crying. It’s the end of the contemporary New Zealand Lord’s Prayer from the Anglican church there. Really, I just said it over, and over, and over again.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In the times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials to great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.