This past weekend my muse visited my congregation as our guest preacher.
Thomas Lynch, readers of the blog will already know, is a poet and writer who also happens to be an undertaker in Milford, Michigan. His prose has inspired my own, his writing on the funeral trade has informed how I conduct them as a clergyman and his hopeful gallows humor has given me cheer these initial weeks in my struggle with cancer.
Here’s his sermon from the Saturday evening service. It’s worth your time. If you subscribe to the blog by email, you may need to click over for the sermon.
The Seamus Heaney poem Lynch references is ‘Miracle’ based on Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in Mark 2.
Not the one who takes up his bed and walks
But the ones who have known him all alongAnd carry him in –
Their shoulders numb, the ache and stoop deeplockedIn their backs, the stretcher handles
Slippery with sweat. And no let up
Until he’s strapped on tight, made tiltableand raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing.
Be mindful of them as they stand and wait
For the burn of the paid out ropes to cool,
Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity
To pass, those ones who had known him all along.
(HUMAN CHAIN, Poems, Seamus Heaney, 2010, FSG)