Pantograph

“Third proposal.”

By number two, I suppress a groan, my muscles aching from the unforgiving pew and long hours. 

“Third proposal: Welcome our gifts and our limitations too.”

There’d been a death in our building. Across the hall, a neglected toothache took a troubled life away. No judgement.

“God welcomes everything in us; in our turn, we can accept ourselves just as we are. That is the beginning of a healing that is so necessary for us all.”

That morning, the bus was crawling up Pill Hill, like it did every morning. There was a stop for the Good Vibes hat, and another for the full head of dreads. The air is a laundry basket, and the seats are lined with nurses.

I cup the side of my ear and flit through song after song, landing on an image of a screenplay. Picture this: a state department program funding rappers in fledgling democracies. The rappers navigate the waters of peer recognition, mindful of the jagged rocks below. The whole scene is a metaphor. 

Rock the vote, don’t rock the boat.

My head’s full of dreadnoughts.

“Accepting our limitations does not make us passive in the face of injustices, violence, and the exploitation of human beings. On the contrary, consenting to our limits can give us the strength to struggle with a reconciled heart.”

I think about his delivery. I think about his word choice. I think about pacing, timing, and kairos. I think about the Oxford comma. I think about the dim lights, and the candles encased in glass. I think about tone. I think about providence. I think about improbable mixtures and unlikely encounters. I think about unexpected alliances. I think about the friends I no longer talk to, and the emails I never opened. I think about books left in boxes in other people’s rooms. I think about severed limbs. I think about regrets. I think about my own regrets. I think about my own limbs, severed. I think about the heavy cloud of unknowing that both comforts and suffocates. I think about stopping to help. I think about carrying cash. I think about becoming a better person.

“The Holy Spirit, a fire hidden in the depths of our being, gradually transforms everything in and around us that is opposed to life.”

Death is in our building. Death is our gentleman lodger with the black mold grin, but we rest in peace behind our prayer shield. We rest in peace with furtive eyes searching the windows for signs of life. We numb the ache and light a candle or two.

“Let us praise God for our gifts. Let us also welcome our frailties as a door through which God enters us. To lead us further, to help us to change our lives, God wants us first of all to be welcoming towards ourselves.”

Her patch says “embrace the suck,” a flash of irony or misdirected rebellion stitched onto her ergonomically-designed exo-suit of labor flow. I lose the plot a little bit.

We are asked to maintain the silence after the service.

I think about my thirty-year writer’s block.

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