In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. (2 Timothy 2:20)
I share this poem as a part of yesterday’s sermon that ended up being left on the cutting room floor — an editorial excision, so to speak. It was originally the opening to my sermon, which was focusing on the ordinary work of dsicipleship that so many of our St. Peter’s Sages have embodied over the years, as a response to Jesus’ question in the Sunday Gospel reading, “Who do you say that I am?” I love the poem, but couldn’t quite get it to fit in cleanly. So I offer it to you this morning in the hope that it will stimulate some reflection around the ordinary kinds of discipleship that most of us engage in every day … being kind, loving, helpful, and faithful in our delaings with God’s children — coupled with the expressions of sin that just as regularly seek to compromise those good deeds and intentions … jealousy, rage, selfishness, ignorance. I hope you find this as provocative and inspiring … and, well, as ordinary … as I did. The poem is entitled “Perhaps the World Ends Here” and was written by Joy Harjo.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what,
we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the
table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe
at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what
it means to be human. We make men at it,
we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms
around our children. They laugh with us at our poor
falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back
together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella
in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place
to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate
the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow.
We pray of suffering and remorse.
We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying,
eating of the last sweet bite.