Friday, June 4, 2010

One beautiful brown loaf...



About 40 years ago when I was in the seminary, a good friend asked me if I believed in the Eucharist and what it meant to me. I knew he wasn't looking for text book answers but rather for what was in my heart. I wrote the following in response to his question. I know that writing this helped me understand my own belief and I believe it helped my friend, too.

As we prepare to celebrate the
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ this coming weekend, I thought you might find these words (in their most recent redaction) worth a read.


Bread

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You have to listen with all of you

to hear the white-green shoot

pushing, rubbing, scraping up through

cool, moist earth: wheat being born.

It's a comforting sound when, finally,
you hear it
and you know the growing sound
isn't in the field
but in your fragile frailty,
in you...

Then fear comes over you:
you will be torn inside, again,
until it hurts
and this may be the time

when growing means leaving behind
who you think you are
and harvesting whom you're made to be...

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You don't have to listen so closely
to hear the wind
shuffle its way
through fields of wheat
so
you have to look very carefully
to see it's not the wind after all, but simply

wheat brushing against wheat,

wheat supporting wheat,

wheat enjoying wheat,

wheat embracing wheat.


The rustling becomes a symphony

of meeting, knowing, touching, growing:

wheat reaching out to wheat
not with fear,
not with flushed face,
but only with the need to touch

and the sound of reaching
is strong,
enveloping, alive!

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

Grinding grains of wheat: harsh,
breaking, crushing sounds,
a not soft noise - hard.
And now you don't want to hear

wheat
being crushed:
it just doesn't look like wheat anymore

and maybe the explosion in you

wasn't a mater of life
but...

water is cool
and now it is all around you:

bubbling and swirling
in flour
ground of wheat
and now you're not surprised
to know
you're listening
to blood filling your veins,
flowing all through you: life.


And just before the fire consumed us, too,

we found bread:
one beautiful brown loaf
of wheat, wind, water
all burgeoning
to life in bread...

Then came one

who broke himself like a loaf
and we heard
in the cracking and tearing of the crust

the word of life
grown, ground, given
for those who share
in the breaking
of the bread.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...


- Austin Fleming


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8 comments:

awareness said...

Beautiful! I am so glad I stopped by this afternoon to read your poem. It is wonderful food for thought, and it has offered me a new look on the Eucharist. thank you.

tph said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. It's very moving, and something I'll pray over.

michelle said...

...and it helped me too.

I don't have the words to describe how beautiful, overwhelming and personal this is.

especially this:

"Then fear comes over you:
you will be torn inside, again, until it hurts
and this may be the time
when growing means leaving behind
who you think you are
and harvesting whom you're made to be... "


Could I print this out and share it? I know some people whom I believe would benefit from this.

ConcordPastor said...

No need to ask for permission - I just ask that you credit my blog address at the end of what you print:

www.ConcordPastor.blogspot.com

Concord Carpenter said...

awesome!

anonymous ii said...

I remember this! Even after all these years.....

ConcordPastor said...

anonymous ii is the friend from my seminary days for whom I wrote this. It's a blessing to know that he remembers!

Namaste!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful I agree with Michelle that part really struck me. I think that you should publish all your poetry I would surely buy and read it. As I was going through the blog today after being away for a week or so, I wanted to cut and paste many of them so that I could find and read them over and over again.

Teacher