Friday, May 17, 2019

body of Christ

India's buzzing in my head: something smells like Shanti Dan as I pass John the Divine—a whiff of memory floating off a street vendor's truck.

Fr. Michael is on fire with the Bread of Life Discourses, insisting that there is a radical community of Christians who intimately matter to each other—even the depressed person in India, he says. Did he know that I was thinking of Kolkata? I wonder.

I think about what joy means, particularly in a space like here, which is less like joy and more like concrete and a place like Kolkata, which is less like joy and more like sweltering heat and sweat dripping down the small of your back.

I do not know if I think about the depressed person in India, but I do know that too many days, on the subway, I look at the people all around me, and I just want to soak up all their pain like a sponge until I'm swollen with it and then wring it out like cleaning blood out of a sock covering a blistered foot, squeezing it all out like a sponge into the holy water font at the back of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

And I wonder if these are the moments we love most like God. We see what we are part of—we haven't even made it, but it's ours—and we just want to heal it, we cannot bear it being sad.

Or those moments when I cry—not the angry, swollen tears of loss or the hot and dirty tears of anger—the soft, warm tears of remorse, of sorrow for being a person who causes others sorrow. These tears flow easily, quickly, out of regret for misunderstandings, or for living out of fear, or for not extending kindness and empathy to the people who deserve them, the compassion I should give them that rises up naturally for the faces surrounding me on the subway.

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