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)

Jason Micheli


4 responses to Human Chain

  1. In a Saturday evening social with some of us, while he was visiting our congregation in Alexandria, Tom Lynch recommended another poem: “October Salmon,” by Ted Hughes. “Read it–slowly,” he said. And I have. . . .

    • It’s a good poem, Mike. Lynch has an essay similar to the salmon poem in ‘Bodies in Motion and at Rest.’

  2. Sheila Dawn Nash March 12, 2015 at 9:49 PM

    Hello – Jason (from out there) very good poem by your friend. just had a flashback to oh about 6-8 years of age – hearing my Daddy tell the story of the lame-I didn’t know what lame was-how they lowered him with ropes- now this was in about 1950 at a very small but always packed full country church – one of the first Daddy served as a Methodist Minister…anyway on the drive home in his red Ford Pick up truck –Daddy was pleased that I had listened….Thinking of my Father- Rev.Normal A Nash and you Rev. Jason – (from out there) this is me -Sheila Dawn (from down here on the Ohio River)

  3. This was really wonderful! I’m so sorry I was unable to attend in person.

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