Monday, May 26, 2008

"The grace that is the health of creatures can only be held in common.

In healing the scattered members come together.

In health the flesh is graced, the holy enters the world."

-Wendell Berry, Healing I

Please comment. Especially in relation to the church family.


Jan said...

Jodi, are you reading Wendell Berry? You're in for a real treat! Mom

Janine the Bean said...

Mmmmmm....Wendell Berry. Sagacious man he is.

Be back later with some thoughts. Read further on in the poem and turn your attention to the words "loneliness," "pride," and "solitude."

Jodi said...

Oh...we read the whole poem and talked quite a bit about it. Of course there is much more to think on when the whole piece is considered.

Janine the Bean said...

I had a bit more time to think as I was out for a run this morning. It reminds me a lot of Milosz and a couple of his poems that I recently read and discussed with friends. He comes close to holding corporate worship in higher importance than our individual "me and God" relationship that is stressed so much these days. I'm still reading his poems and enjoying his thoughts. I won't comment much on that now though.

This is an excerpt from one:

"Treat with understanding persons of weak faith.

Myself included. One day I believe, another I disbelieve.

Yet I feel warmth among people at prayer.
Since they believe, they help me to believe
in their existence, these incomprehensible beings. "

How many times I've felt that one of the sole reasons I pick myself up and go to church is so that my unbelief will be strengthened among my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Healing, filling, warmth....they all take place weekly when we commune in Christ and corporately worship him. Sometimes I don't FEEL like it, but through God's grace and our common faith in him, I am healed. My faith, though weak, is strengthened by being together with others, who perhaps feel their faith to be just as weak as mine.

"In healing the scattered members come together." What more can you say, but...amen. We do! . Every Sunday, I believe we come to be healed. Not physically, though that can happen as well, but spiritually and emotionally. We confess our sins corporately, and then comes the assurance of pardon and grace and the exaltation of Christ through worship in song. We receive communion. We hear God's words. Christ's body heals us. God's word heal us. They heal. Though our sins, as separate members of the body of Christ,are varied, we come together in healing.

And health, we leave...more ready for another week in the world. More holy? I doubt it. Maybe. But, nonetheless, reminded of God's grace and forgiveness and ready to enter the world again. For another week of failure. Yet reminded of God's grace that heals and restores. Over and over again.

So there are a few of my thoughts. Thanks for posting this. I haven't read this poem in a while.


Jodi said...

I agree. We DO come to church to be healed. Often times I have felt the same way. There is such a joy in community.
The phrase "in healing the scattered members come together" has been especially sticking in my mind since we talked about this yesterday. I feel deeply the need for more community in our church... for healing as we come together. And we come together in Christ, in community, in health, we will understand the grace God gives to His church. I think the "coming together" and bringing together the scattered members in regards to church should speak about more than simply Sunday morning and the occasional Bible study/fellowship times.
I think we will read this poem again more closely as there was so much that stood out in relation to the church...things we would do well to learn as we live within our church family.

Jodi said...

ps Janine: signing you name as "J" made me laugh as we are in a family with more J's than I care to count right now :)

Janine the Bean said...

Why can't I be "J"?

Anyhow, yes. It does need to be more than Sunday morning and the occasional Bible study. Breaking down walls, REALLY getting into the details, as messy as they may be, of who we ARE, is what community is about.

When we can come together open and vulnerable, grumpy or cheery, that is when fellowship can happen.

Now, why does Wendell say "In healing" and not "for healing?" While we are BEING healed...and it needs to be all the time...we come together. It's not a one-time occurrence.

Janine the Bean said...

What think ye?

Jodi said...

Perhaps "coming together" is more than the act of gathering at one specific time but more of a unified act. In the time of healing, the members come together. In the time of health, the flesh is graced.

Yes, No???

I think it would be great to sit down with several people and talk about the entirety of this essay as it relates to our church. There are many good insights contained in it.

Janine the Bean said...

Bring it on. Let's sit over coffee or a beer (or wine, since you hate beer) and talk about it. I love Wendell (in a literary hero/worldview changing sort of way).

Have you ever read the Sojourner's interview with Berry?

You ought to. I think you can find it online.

I was flipping through my "quote book" and found a quote that struck me:

The real first church was that gaggle of people who followed Jesus around. We don't know anything about them. But he apparently didn't ask them what creed they subscribed to, or what their sexual preference was, or any of that. He fed them. He healed them. He forgave them. He is clear about sin, but he was also for forgiveness.