I Wear the People


I wear the people in the winter when I tug on her short black socks.  “Clovice,” the label reads, stretching across the small toes of my right foot.  Sewing her name on her socks kept the nursing home from losing them.  Wherever she is now, she doesn’t need these socks any longer. I do. I wear her.

I wear the people like my Christmas tree bears ornaments – clumped, uneven, no coordinated theme, all sentimental and tattered.  Sometimes, Canadian people and Caribbean people crowd around my left wrist; bangle bracelets clanging one against another.  My Cajun chef slipping underneath a Floridian sister.

Sometimes, in the morning, I take six people with me to work. Swinging from my ears, resting in the hollow of my neck, encircling my wrist, they shift atop me like cargo on a plodding camel.  Other days, they gently stir like chimes in the sweet breeze of memory.

The pecan trees in my father’s orchard wear mistletoe on their limbs.  But his pecan trees are accessorized by a parasite, taking not giving.  I wear the people of my life more like spent cotton stems.  In late December, ebony, all but empty, stalks of cotton fly flossy flags of blanched fibers.  These small white flags of surrender wave in cool winds, and the passerby knows the bounty of a lush crop only by its remnants.  This is the way I wear the people and the plenteous inheritance I have received from knowing and being known by them.

A jewel here, a scarf  there, a broach at my breast — nothing more than a small white flag of surrender.  I have surrendered to their deaths, to the time that is no more, to their absence, to an exchange that will remain in the past.  A great bounty shown only by a small token.

This is how I wear the people.

One Day

one day sunrise

Sunrise, Manly, NSW, Australia by Jeff Turner, Creative Commons on Flikr

Good and Loving God,
thank you for this one day.
Thank you for this one day that you have opened with the sun’s rising
and that you will close with cool breezes and star light.

Thank you for this one day
in which we will hear children laugh
and in which waves will rise and fall upon our shores.

Thank you for this one day
when we will witness the bravery and courage of first-responders
and in which we will receive care and compassion
from nurses and teachers and kind friends.

Thank you, God, for this one day
for it is all that we have.

The past days are boxed up
like old photos we will look at one Christmas.
And the days to come
dangle in front of us like a baited hook;
we have no idea what they will lure and catch.

And so, we say, “Thank you, God, for this one day.”

On this one day, God,
may our good exceed our harm.

On this one day,
may love far outweigh fear;
and may patience outlast rash thinking and behavior.

On this one day we have, Good God,
may we see and be more light than dark in this world.
And, as in all life, let us enact these principles
in the little things of our one day.

Lead us to return a smile to a frown.
Empower us to wait our turn,
to be open to another’s opinion,
to say “thank you” for a kindness,
and to slow down and see the person beside us.

On this one day, Good and Loving God,
be in us and with us,
that we might evermore grow
into the fullness of your desire for us.

For this one day is all that we have.

In your name, we pray.  Amen.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2014

Written as an invocation for the Bay County Commissioner’s meeting December 16, 2014.

Around that Table

Struan Bread Dec 08 001

I grew up going to Sunday dinner at my Grannie’s house.  Grannie was known for her hospitality; she always had an open door and food to be shared.  Sunday after Sunday my family gathered around an oval claw-footed oak table that easily seated fourteen of us at a time.  Grannie didn’t have much in the way of material items, but she always had enough china, glassware, and silverware cobbled together in mix and match settings to provide a place setting for everyone who came to her table.  Each one of us had our place at the table, and each one of us played a part in getting food prepared, setting out the dishes, calling people to the table, running to the store when we ran out of ice, and washing dishes.  We were a motley crew.  We were indifferent, delusional, mean-spirited, kind, outspoken, shy, beautiful, peacemaking, faithful, honest, and dishonest.  We were all these and much, much more.  We liked each other; we loved each other; we resented each other; we tolerated each other.  I believe we became a family around that table sustained by the rhythm, the ritual, the shared food, and Grannie’s intention that she would host us at her table.

When I imagine the intent of Jesus saying “do this in remembrance of me” as He blessed and passed the cup and broke the bread, I think Jesus was inviting us to continue to share a table with one another, to continue to open ourselves to God’s grace at work through the mystery of this meal, to continue to be reminded that in the sharing of the cup of His blood and in the breaking of his body we are healed.  I imagine that in Holy Communion Jesus is reminding us of the gift and pain we will experience through covenant community.  In the church, at the Table, some are Mary Magdalene; some are Peter; some are Judas.  We are all God’s children.  With as much humility as I can muster, in ministry I give myself over to the understanding that throughout my life, I have been and/or will be these three and more.  With as much love and compassion as I can muster in ministry, I yield my heart in the knowledge that we will all be these three and more.  However, we all have a deeper, more lasting identity that we claim each time we share Holy Communion.  We all belong to Christ.

Amy Persons Parkes © 2012