I was present for the worship service Saturday, August 8 at Travis Park UMC in San Antonio, TX, during the Gather at the River event. Yes, that worship service. I would like to share with you the piece I wrote about it, but first I am going to break all rules of poetry and tell you what this poem is not about. This poem is not about a person. This poem is not a veiled bashing. This poem is my experience of that event, and Godspeed to it as it leaves my hands and goes where it will.
We were gathered,
comfortable and companionable in that holy space,
singing, praying, worshiping, listening,
then . . .
did you see it?
Did your senses alert you that it had entered the room?
Did you notice when the air stopped moving?
Did your heart beat faster,
did your limbs grow cold,
did you feel the prickles on your skin?
Your soul knew.
Your soul registered the sudden presence,
felt the thudding steps,
recognized the scarred scales,
the heavy weaving head,
the clouded eyes and foul breath.
Your soul saw it, knew it, and
acting on the instinctive knowledge
that it is the moving prey that gets caught.
The earth itself hesitated, paused in concern
as the great beast’s weight shifted,
its tail sweeping from side to side,
the filmy eyes searching about.
In that frozen moment,
with every moving part in the room halted,
every character turned to stone,
the very story brought up short –
the warm breath of grace,
swirled into the room,
releasing prisoners one by one,
freeing means of expression,
making room for movement, for response, for lament –
and in that sacred and waiting space,
the ominous presence was acknowledged,
the dragon’s name revealed
while the wounded cried,
the bound were seen,
the truth was spoken.
The Spirit continued to move,
making power available
to whomever wanted it,
and as the strength of the gathering was renewed,
the heavy presence began to recede . . .
and though we have not yet overcome it,
we now all know what it looks like,
what it feels like,
and the surging strength of the love in our hearts
will combine into a mighty flow,
a holy and mighty force
which alone can render the dragon powerless
and heal the wrenching wound.