Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Solche schöne Hände": On Providence and Grace

In Franz Wright's poem "Event Horizon," he writes of his wife in Germany, approached by a single boy from a group of children marred by Chernobyl years earlier. The boy "takes her hand in his / six-fingered hand, and whispers / solche schöne Hände" -- that is, such beautiful hands. Wright concludes the poem with a question:

"How many people can say that / for a minute they knew why they'd lived?"

Two years ago, on my last Sunday at our church in Atlanta -- the community my wife and I called home for two and a half years, and where I served for a full year as an intern for teaching and preaching -- I shared these Eucharistic meditations and prayers. After I finished, as the worship went on, I felt a tug on my right shoulder. An older African-American woman whom I had never met before was standing next to me, having apparently come sought me out. As the church stood singing, she hugged me and pulled me close to whisper in my ear. She said, "Your prayers were so beautiful. I hope my son can pray like that one day."

How many people can say that for a minute they knew why they'd lived?

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