My Inerrant Irreverence

Ben White

“They were our guardian angels.
Naughty, nippy, yippy angels,
but angels nonetheless.”

Traci Thompson

IMG_4009

The angels can only take so much sadness. Grief that curds stomachs. The whey of righteous indignation. Then they grin at us askance, and the corners of our eyes curl toward a smile infecting our sorrowing pals, and we bumble with belly laughter, Pharisees rushing from their pews, gnashing their sharp, little teeth, casting us out into what they can only see as eternal darkness, our unstoppable laughter ringing a light unto our narrow path.

To Those Persons Who Have Harmed . . .

“Then Peter came up and said to him,
‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me,
and I forgive him? As many as seven times?'”
(Matthew 18: 21, ESV)

You know who you are.

You mate-less socks,
you superfluous commas.

You comb over.
You toenail fungus.

Unctuous
canned-ham phlegm.

Plumber’s snake.

You tip-toe tattlers,
bulbous toad warts.

You seeping sumps.

Stench of burning rubber,
unquenchable fire.

I forgive you.

B7C11978-CA7F-4145-95E3-3EC0E87A916A
Ben White

Okay! Are you laughing? If so, then welcome. You know I loved coming up with every irreverent, unfair metaphor. Of course Jesus laughed with me. He didn’t like Pharisees either. Trust me. Why do you think he preferred children?

basque
Don and Jared Gray Mural of a Basque Sheepherder on Aultman St. (Hwy. 50) in Ely, Nevada.
Let Us Be Children

What Jesus said those with ears to hear
should attend to, like the bedtime story
we sometimes recall in the quiet of 4:00 a.m.,
all the traffic stilled, the red lights blinking yellow,
the only creatures stirring, us and the
shepherd dog pressed against our side,
paws lying one atop the other,
chin resting on their pillow, our ears
attuned to our mother’s voice
reading again the tale of Flopsy, Mopsy,
Cottontail, and Peter, who was very naughty,
and we believe and slip into dreams
knowing we, or at least our souls,
will wake coming to Jesus, called from
the crowd of grown-ups, those scribes
and lawyers crowding Jesus
with questions written on their palms.
And we are the least of these, birthed
in the valley of the shadow, no need
for DNA testing, surprise genealogy.
We know what the world makes of us,
like it does Jesus, so his story begins
with Matthew the pariah tax collector
gathering Jesus’s lineage in three groups
of fourteen names mostly forgotten
but known enough to recognize Jesus
born of woman–Mary called Virgin,
a question only a child would
neither ask nor require an answer.
Matthew–tax collector, saint,
labeled cheat, toady of the Roman State–
raised from his table of coins
stacked three for Caesar, one for
the tax collector’s trouble, maybe two,
the State looking the other way, and Jesus
paid his tribute and said Follow me.
So Matthew begins his gospel with
that most human of genealogy–
fallen fathers and even mothers,
ancestry of the Son of Man.

Andrew, Dylan, & Lucy

So this rambling, rushed draft is the fourth in a series of Posts celebrating my Christ-like servant friends cast out like the man born blind who, thanks to Jesus, now can see and testify of Jesus to the Pharisees, the religious-always-right, the man declaring, “‘I don’t know if he [Jesus] is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see'” (John 9: 25-26, The Jerusalem Bible), and irreverently, sarcastically, asking his interrogators, “‘Do you want to become his disciples too?'” (John 9: 28, The Jerusalem Bible). And you know they “hurled abuse at him” and said, “‘Are you trying to teach us, . . . and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away” (John 9: 34, The Jerusalem Bible). Cast him out. But you already know Jesus found the man and asked, “‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?'” and the man who had been born blind said, “‘Lord, I believe,’ and worshipped him'” (John 9: 35-38, The Jerusalem Bible). A happy ending. I love this story. Tears and laughter, the joy that comes in the morning, comes in the dark of night. The joy I pray for my friends.

IMG_3980
Julie Fink