Where do I know you from? Holding each other in a tent on a rainy morning This is something we've done before I followed you here to remember that I've missed you tremendously You With the glowing face and the straight back I always recognize you With the strong hands and soft heart I always know Your eyes are shaped like bubbling laughter I get lost in the revelry Of this joyful, playful, youthful love Pulling me out of myself Asking me to come away with you I wish this life were longer I don't feel that we are magnetized to one another So much as our companionship is the natural rhythm of things The sun following the moon The sprouts following the snow There is no other way it could be I return here to orbit with you in pleasant synchronicity Contextualized, potentiated, knowing and known Waxing to your wain Humming softly into your chest Inhaling and exhaling in time.
Whenever I can I try to kiss them all over Every inch of their skin I can reach I want my love to seep into their pores like a salve To circulate in their bloodstream And stretch down into their warm bones I tell them kisses are a medicine I brought with me into this world I want to embarrass them with my love I kiss their face in a circle Counter-clockwise - cheek, forehead, cheek, chin Then their nose, then their mouth They tell me maybe I should try kissing myself some time And I laugh uncomfortably I lie awake at night alone And I kiss the back of my hand And it feels like when my mom used to tell me to apologize, but I didn't feel sorry. It feels like when my teacher used to make us give a Valentine to everyone, so no one got left out. But somewhere in my skin something is blushing Something is whispering "I hope they really mean it" And I hope I do too.
I am an ant walking up a tree Traversing an unpredictable terrain Peaks and valleys over time I work together with others I solve problems as they arise I provide food for my family I am an ant walking up a tree And I do not know it is a tree I have not seen the larger body Of the landscape through which I spend my days But I know that the sun shines on it And that the rain waters it I know the shapes of its leaves And I know how I am to live.
I've built a home, Its center flue, Flows straight into the sky, Mix my body in the smoke, And through it let me fly Across the sky, And through the land, I'll lose this weight of time, No way have I, to think of them, My love, our pets, and I.
We often don’t know what the love of God really looks like, because we are looking to each other as examples of what love means. And those examples are often steeped in human pain, repression and trauma.
The love of God doesn’t look like the love of a disappointed parent. The love of God is not the love of an abusive spouse. The love of God is not a codependent friendship. It is not the love you feel for your dog. It is not the love of a nation. It is not spiteful or selfish or conditional.
It does not falter at your skin tone, your tattoos, the way you speak, your choice of lover. It does not ask loaded questions, it does not roll it’s eyes.
We see nothing like it, except the glimpses we can catch, in a moment of mutual understanding, a kind smile, an electric connection between strangers, the experience of being lovingly known, the feeling of singing together.
And that is but a candle to the sun of God’s love that surrounds us at all times.
In our wounded world there is no comparison, the only way to understand is it faith. To do as we are called to do, to see others as God does, we must challenge ourselves to love deeper than the love we’ve been given.
Went through an old journal and found this letter I wrote to my future self when I was 19, around this time 6 years ago.
I am writing this at 12:17pm on February 26, 2014, 7 days after my clavicle reconstruction surgery. I am 19 years old. I am writing this to myself.
I have no plans for you. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and with whom you are doing it, is fine. You could be successful or lonely or on the street and none of these things would surprise or disappoint me. Even the vague hopes I have now, I understand enough of the world to know that experience may very well render those desires irrelevant. I know that now, and I am content with that. Your life may have taken a direction I never in my wildest dreams could have foreseen, and that is great! My knowledge, my perspective is so finite, do not seek to pacify me as I am now. The moment in which I am writing this will have passed, and with it my self in this moment will be dead. Never to see, never to know another thing. But you, in the present, are so full of life lived and foods tasted that I could not have imagined! And it is the knowledge that you are not as finite as me, that you will change and grow beyond my limitations, that makes it so I have not died in vain.
So do not fixate on me. Behind you is death and in front of you is new life and infinite possibility! Already at 19 I have spent years fixated on the idea that I did not turn out as a younger me would have imagined. At 19! Do you see how ridiculous and hopeless this idea is? So this is me, trying to relieve myself by relieving you. Unfortunately I have no idea where you are or what you are doing with your life now, so I have no insight or guidance to offer you. You know yourself better than I do. I do not know you, we have never met. I am merely a piece of you, shaken off like antlers in the fall while you carry on. New ones will grow in the spring, and they will be bigger and stronger, so do not mourn for me. You will lose nothing I had, and gain so much more. My only desires for myself are to grow, and I’m sure you’ve got that covered.
Be strong. Be kind.
Yours in memory,
Lane Silas Patriquin
Today, the atmosphere is thin
The birds and squirrels are quiet in the trees
The sky, dense and preoccupied, hurries across the land
A slow, old grief is vibrating up through the soil
Through the bones in my legs
And it fills up the shallow basin of my heart
So that nothing else may be held in it
An ungrateful child come to a too-late appreciation
Of this woman's storied and weary life
I go and sit under the old spruce that raised me
I press a hand to her weathered trunk
And wait silently at her bedside
Neither of us having anything to say
Primordial as the ocean tide, Seasonal as the butterfly, All that lives must chart through time, Their paths to food and peace of mind. Across the skies, waters and lands, We move but by this one command, That nothing stays in time or place, These cyclical motions are maps Grace. So who are mortals to deny, Habits which are old as time? Brief lines and walls may pacify, But vines, creatures, and people, Climb.
For the past three days I have walked by a lily of the valley Lying on the ground Forged from the spinal fluid of the Earth And every day Though it lies Trampled and dirty It has not changed What an honour it is to decay What sweet, fertile release What redemption And what a horror it is To create something beautiful Which will never die.
This is a sermon that I gave for the feast of Corpus Christi on June 23, 2019 at The Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields in Toronto. The readings for this are Deut 8:2-3, 14-16; Ps 116:10-17; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 6:51-58.
This Sunday we are celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi, a day to honour the presence of Christ in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This solemnity is the only feast which was added to the liturgical calendar by the efforts of a woman, Juliana of Liege, who, among other women in Christian communities at the time, felt a very strong devotion to the Eucharistic elements.
The historic devotion of Christian women to the Eucharist makes a lot of sense. Food and care work, the sustaining of the physical and emotional well being of others, has traditionally been considered women’s work for thousands of years. And so it makes sense that God would work through women to relay the importance of this feast.
Despite the convoluted reasoning of how exactly bread and wine can be physical body and blood, the acceptance of these realities offers a reassuring simplicity. Christ came to serve, to care for others, and each time we participate in the Eucharist we are invited to do that. This message, and this action, is quite simple, demonstrated throughout his whole life: Serve others. Feed others. Protect, heal, and care for others.
These holy tasks we are called to, are women’s work. Jesus was a man who did women’s work. He is a deacon, a role in the church for those who serve their community, which has commonly been given to women. Despite all of the ways that scripture has been abused to attack the image of God as manifested in gender-variant people, Jesus was a man who undeniably transgressed the social gender norms of his day in order to exemplify and venerate the holy work of women: to feed, to wash, to heal the sick, to care for the children.
The Eucharist reminds us that we have not been asked to look for God up in the sky, or in some transcendent realm of higher consciousness. Though God certainly exists in the cosmos as much as anywhere else, that is not the site of God’s creation of us. We were created here, on this physical Earth, specially shaped for this land, which has all we need to care for ourselves physically and spiritually. Christ’s physical presence in his vulnerable human incarnation, and his remaining physical presence in the nourishment of bread and the joy of wine, asks us to look down to the soil and to the plants and creatures, and forward into each other’s faces and open hands, to see the life of God and what is being asked of us: to be mindfully and persistently present in our physical lives and our relationships to one another.
The two parts of the Eucharist, the bread and the wine, serve different but equally important purposes. The bread is something very practical and easy to understand: it is that which fills us, it is the gift of food brought forward by the Earth, and shaped and cooked by human hands, that provides us with physical life. Without bread, without food, we could not live. Wine on the other hand, being something without significant nutritional value and certainly not a basic physical necessity of our bodies, is also recognized as a key substance that we are to partake in, in order to live in Christ.
My family, very much people of food and wine, taught me at a young age that wine is something you drink with others. By the nature of the beverage and it’s historical use, it has always been something brought out to partake in together. I remember my father jokingly referred to it as a “social lubricant.” Often in conversations about community organizing, we talk about the necessity of going to the pub with your neighbours and coworkers, because friendship and trust is built over drinks and laughter.
Like any psychoactive substance, alcohol has the potential to be used in harmful ways, and I think that the fact that alcohol is a medicine that must be treated with respect is something needs to be emphasized in our culture. Certainly the liquor companies that will be showing up on rainbow floats this afternoon, advertising an addictive substance to an already psychologically vulnerable community, are doing nothing to show respect for alcohol and it’s purpose on the Earth. But I’ve always found it very interesting that in the Christian tradition, one of our sacraments is wine: a substance whose purpose is to relieve our anxiety and make us more sociable, to make it easier to talk and laugh, to allow us to lean across the aisle to someone who may seem unfamiliar, and crack a joke. That Jesus asked us to partake in this substance, with equal importance to the bread that sustains our physical bodies, highlights the inextricably social nature of Christianity. The bread: the caring, feeding, washing, housing, and healing – and the wine: the talking, organizing, joking, scheming, and celebrating – are the two sides of the mission we must enact as followers of Christ, inextricable from one another.
Often times when we are seeking to act in solidarity with those who are more under-resourced than ourselves, to feed people just makes plain sense. We feel called to share our resources, our food, and our money, to ensure the physical well being of those less fortunate. And while these actions are definitely in alignment with that aspect of Christ’s mission, in many charity contexts this doesn’t always accompany being invited to sit at the same table.
How well can we know exactly what someone else needs, if we are not in conversation, speaking to each other as equals? How do we act in the best interests of others if we are focused only on providing a service, one that depends on one party remaining as the decision-makers and the resource-holders, without building relationships based on trust, mutual understanding, and even joy?
Bread is incredibly important, it is the gift of life on this Earth and everlasting life as embodied in Christ. But we must also remember to bring the wine. Amen.