Once Upon a Timebomb & The Gardener’s Request

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 from Sorry for Your Troubles by Padraig O Tuama

ONCE UPON A TIMEBOMB

The stories we’ve told

were carefully moulded

with not-so-lightly chosen

terminology.

 

Words avoided

and what was told aloud

was certainly not as loud

as what was shrouded

by our mutually unagreed silence

 

because violence,

while it is deep in us,

is not what sleeps deepest in us.

 

And the question is

can I see my face

when I face my own history

from where you faced it?

 

And the question is

can we create the space that holds us

and moulds us in our bodies

so that we embody

who and what

we can be

with one another?

Luke 13:1-9 retells the story of yet another owner of a vineyard, this time eager for profit. When the young vines do not give fruit as the owner wanted, he calls for cutting them all down and casting them away.  But the gardener asks for another year — a year during which he will tend and nurture these vines that he has cherished.  A year, one more year, the gardener asks, and the owner agrees — but then will come judgment, obliterating judgment.

The time of Lent is a time of shadows and pause in the shallows of the year, an asking in ashes for patience, for time, for a chance to repent, a chance to change.   And it is the gardener in Gethsemane, the one Mary Magdalene mistakes as merely gardener, who asks for this time, this chance to change.  This chance to recognize Jesus in one another.

Padraig O Tuama’s poem, one of a cycle of poems about living in and through a shared time and place of Northern Ireland in the “Troubles”, asks whether in our own cycles of violence, of ongoing troubles, can we begin to speak and hear the gardener’s imagine, the chance of beginning again?

For me the most powerful stanza of this poem is:

And the question is

can I see my face

when I face my own history

from where you’ve faced it?

Can my confession of myself this Lent grow out of the face of you looking at me, myself reflected in your eyes?  Can my confession of myself this Lent grow out of the face of Jesus looking at me?  Can my confession of myself this Lent grow out of the long stare into the eyes of all my others, friends and foes and family all, strangers and dogs and beggars and bishops and on?

Can I see my face — can you give that to me, a gardener of imagination for my life with you?  And can I, will I give the grace of imagination of you abundant in your life with me and all about in return?

Our Lenten confessions are not for our sakes alone, but for the forgiveness, the restoration, the imaginative abundance of one and another, of all those who have endured the “Troubles” in facing my face, and yours, and staying with us even so.

What now can we find in one another’s eyes?

 

 

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