Meditation from this week’s texts: grace in unexpected times and places — manna in the desert and overturning the social order when ‘the last shall be first’
The Last Shall Be First
Love someone who doesn’t deserve it. — Wendell Berry
Maybe God (or Goodness or Good Orderly Direction or Gift of Desperation) is in whom we move, live and have our being, but the world is a also a chaotic place and humanity is a chaotic place, and I am a chaotic place some days, too. So I take the right action: I get my own emotional acre in order, through radical self-care, serving the poor, sharing my M&M’s, flirting with the very old. Then the insight follows, the one I share … that, all evidence to the contrary, we are loved and chosen and safe.— Anne Lamott
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. — Niels Bohr
To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. — Gandhi, Farewell
Tonight, darling, we are going to right a lot of wrongs. And we are going to wrong some rights. The first shall be last; the last shall be first; the meek shall do some earth-inheriting. ― John Green, Paper Towns
This bread is the body of the cosmos. — Thich Nhat Hanh
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten … Only by continued oversight … by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity. — Wendell Phillips
According to legend, the Israelites were doomed to starvation but were saved by food called ‘manna’ in the form of coriander seed that came from the heavens. The manna fell during the night on dew, which encased and protected the seeds until morning when they could be gathered and ground into flour, which was used to bake a sweet bread. A double portion fell on Friday so that there was enough to bake bread for that day as well as for Saturday, the Sabbath, when no manna fell. ― Martin K. Gay, Encyclopedia of North American Eating & Drinking Traditions, Customs, and Rituals
… manna. It is a honey-like excretion from certain insects which infest tamarisk trees in this area. When it drops from the leaves it becomes almost solid, but in the heat of the day it melts, so it must be collected in the morning. That sufficient was available to feed all is a miracle, a special intervention by God. … the name manna comes from “‘What is it?’”, man hu in Hebrew: the Israelites ask what do you call it. — Chris Haslam, Anglican Diocese of Montreal (blog)
— John Milton (Excerpt)
He ended, and the Son of God reply’d.
Think’st thou such force in Bread? is it not written
(For I discern thee other then thou seem’st)
Man lives not by Bread only, but each Word
Proceeding from the mouth of God; who fed
Our Fathers here with Manna; in the Mount
Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank,
And forty days Eliah without food
Wandred this barren waste, the same I now.
Why dost thou then suggest to me distrust,
Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?
where our protest sound
— Lenelle Moïse
… haiti’s first cousin
by a hurricane
… hot winds
come one fat
old levee leak
explodes. fixing funds gone
stationed in iraq. said,
jazz is underwater
days like laissez-faire
manna does not fall
saviors do not save
hunger prays to rage for
resilience, improvisational genius
implodes, anarchy duets
with despair …
Manna — King Woman
(excerpt from song lyrics)
Am I created in the image of my “Father God”?
Am I created in an image? What I had I lost
Am I created in an image what I want to see?
I am created in the image of suffering
Calling all your heavy laden
Calling all you heavy laden
Manna machine …
Whom Aren’t You Noticing?
Who or what has the capacity to break you open?
More Blues and the Abstract Truth (excerpt)
— C. D. Wright
… Well. Then. You say Grandmother
let me just ask you this:
How does a body rise up again and rinse
her mouth from the tap. And how
does a body put in a plum tree
or lie again on top of another body
or string a trellis. Or go on drying
the flatware. Fix rainbow trout. Grout the tile.
Buy a bag of onions. Beat an egg stiff.
Yes … And how does a body break
bread with the word when the word
has broken. Again. And. Again.
With the wine. And the loaf.
And the excellent glass
of the body. And she says,
Even. If. The. Sky. Is. Falling.
My. Peace. Rose. Is. In. Bloom.
And if strangers come to supper they shall be served with more according as they have need. — Robert Grossteste
It’s good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers. — Maya Angelou
There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet. — William Butler Yeats
We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken. — Fyodor Dostoevsky
Even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope. — Martin Luther King, Jr
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. ― Mahatma Gandhi
I was raised in a group home for 14 years, so I was a beneficiary of philanthropy. I didn’t have a family. The nameless, faceless strangers were my family. They gave me an education, put food on the table and clothes on my back. I am who I am because of that formative experience. Now I am paying it forward. — Darell Hammond
Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers. — Victor Hugo
Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way. — Barbara Bush
— Kamau Brathwaite
… life itself.
the dream of the soil itself
flesh of the god you break.
peace to your lips.
strife of the multitudes
who howl all day for its saviour
who need its crumbs …
to keep their groans alive
and this loaf here.
life now halted.
more and more water add-
itive. the dream less clear.
the soil more distant
its prayer of table.
bless of lips.
more hard to reach
… the hands that should have
broken open its victory
… searching searching …
Date Palm Trinity (excerpt)
— Khaled Mattawa
… Those were my brothers who cowered beneath
the date palm to gather handfuls of fruit,
rubbing each date clean on their sleeves,
chewing softly to savor the taste
as though it were a good omen, and rising
to resume their lives, on their faces
the smiles of those who once were blessed.
“Anniversaries of War” (excerpt)
— Yehuda Amichai (Translation by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav)
Remember: even the departure to terrible battles
passes by gardens and windows
and children playing, a dog barking.
Remind the fallen fruit
of its leaves and branches,
remind the sharp thorns
how soft and green they were in springtime,
and do not forget,
even a fist
was once an open palm and fingers.
Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. — Che Guevara
A nonviolent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power. — Mahatma Gandhi
They asked Gluskabe “where has our sweet drink gone?” … Gluskabe told them that if they wanted the syrup again that they would have to work hard to get it. — Excerpted from www.firstpeople.us
We must keep these waters for wild rice, these trees for maple syrup, our lakes for fish, and our land and aquifers for all of our relatives – whether they have fins, roots, wings, or paws. — Winona LaDuke
As preacher and teacher, he inverted the quotidian cross, always extolling the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the poor. He pointed out how the everyday was holy. Jesus wore the regular fabric of humanity and by wearing it, he redeemed it. — Diana Butler Bass
You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. – Nelson Mandela
Hope wasn’t a cottage industry; it was neither a product that she could manufacture like needlepoint samplers nor a substance she could secrete, in her cautious solitude, like a maple tree producing the essence of syrup. It had to be found in other people, by reaching out, by opening her fortress heart. — Dean Koontz
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. — Winston Churchill
My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow other-worldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather, it is a call for a radical re-orientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self towards concern for the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own. — Dalai Lama
Today, Passover is used as an opportunity to reflect on the things that plague our world, to seek justice for the still-oppressed and even to bring together multi-faiths family and friends under the common banner of universal freedom. — “Passover 2011: The Unleavened Basics,” Huffington Post
The demoralisation born of their servitude was at an end; the ransomed people went forth to a sane and wholesome life, to a life of brave and large ideals. — Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
A candle in a glass (excerpt)
— Marge Piercy from Available Light
Grandmother Hannah comes to me at Pesach
and when I am lighting the sabbath candles.
The sweet wine in the cup has her breath….
a little winter no spring can melt.
Abruptly All the Palm Trees
— William Jay Smith
Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And sunlight danced, and green to greenness gave.
Birds flew forth and cast like waterfalls
Shadow upon shade.
… We stood, our blood as bright and fringed as shawls
Before the beautiful, progressing leaf.
Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And green was the green which green to greenness gave.
Dimension crumbled, Time lay down its walls.
And all the world went wading towards the wave.