Thursday, March 15, 2007
Simple Pleasures: Thursday, March 15th
Yesterday was a day of simple pleasures: a shower; warm hot chocolate; my toes in the grass, the UN water fountain; a visit from my girlfriend and a few kisses; all the children eating their lunch in the park; kettle popcorn from the farmer’s market; a visit from a clown who brought wine, cheese and crackers; watching people at the mall; almost getting kicked out of Bath and Body Works for using too many of the free samples; and lots of laughter.
All this fun I have been having is a good reminder that if I can give my body and my mind good self care on the streets, then I should not have a hard time when I am living indoors and working at the church. I can think of all the times that I have thought that I was too busy, or that the needs of the homeless are more emergent and need more focus than my own self care.
While it is true that grant and sermon writing has firm deadlines and the homeless are in desperate need, all people are entitled to quality care – even my self. Jesus is a good example. He was always taking his disciples off to retreats in the wilderness – even though every time he tried to get away people would still come and find him and surround him so much that he would get pushed into a boat and have to talk to them from the water. And he just kept on retreating to the wilderness for silence and prayer.
This morning the security guard who woke me up at the church (tonight sleeping on the cold concrete steps rather than on the soft grass below the tree in the back) gave me a dollar. So, now I have about $1.50 in my pockets. While there is not much that one can buy for $1.50, it’s great to have a little bit of money in my pockets so that I can dream about all the things that I could buy. He seems to be softening a bit each morning. I wonder what will happen today?
Today I remember the feast day of St. Longinus the Centurion (According to the Old Roman Calendar, also celebrated on Oct. 16th in the Orthodox Calendar). St. Longinus is known as being the Centurion that pierced Jesus' side and the Centurion who notes "surly this is man is the Son of God." Some scholars have also wondered if this is the same centurian that Jesus meets in the Gospel of Luke and cures his slave/boy.
As Fr. Johh O'Neill has pointed, there are several aspects to this story which might lend it to a queer reading. In the first place it seems somewhat odd that a centurion would be so caring about a slave, caring enough to risk ridicule by approaching a Jewish miracle worker for help. The underlying Greek text intensifies this suspicion of a possible same-sex relationship. Tom Horner, author of David Loved Jonathan: Homosexuality in Biblical Times, points out that in Matthew, the earlier account and directed to a Greek-speaking Jewish audience, the word for servant is "pais" - which means "boy", but can also mean "servant", and, given the rather greater than average concern for a servant demonstrated by the centurion, can also mean "lover". The word "pederasty" for instance derives from "pais". Luke, who was writing in a much more Greek milieu changes the word "pais" to the much more neutral "doulos" ("servant" or "slave"), presumably aware of its homosexual implications to any reader with a Greek cultural background. Jesus, clearly, does not condemn the centurion in this story of faith.
So, today I pray for all of the queer saints who may or may not have articulated their sexual or gender identity in a contemporary way. I pray that we could all become more fluent in the queer history of God(dess), the Bible and the God(dess)’s people. AMEN.