Prayer Before a Driftwood Cross

(in gratitude for a visit to Agape Community) by Marjorie Corbman In the morning light, thick as golden ribbons from the window to my eyes, I notice: my fingernails are still caked with dirt. The soul in the body is like sap in the tree, — said Saint Hildegard of Bingen — the soul in the body: a sweetness that fills us, our clotting lifeblood, the food of stillness when we reach up towards sun. I pray: teach me this gift, the slow work of tending, a day’s wild watching, the peace the world cannot give (but that a bite of sourdough and herb butter might), knowledge of our tangled roots, and courage to expose them. Teach me this, how to be a tree in the orchard of God (in which, of course, there are many branches) and how to hunger for every worm and weaving weed and dewdrop that binds my body to all this life. Oh, our earth — fruited and budding, sunbaked and broken, gnarled, bent, crackling with thirst, stretched on a rack of tortured uprooting, our nation’s theft, our killing, our curse — We know, the offering of a single day before a driftwood crucifix is not nearly enough. Still, if you’ll take it, if you’ll crack our caked dirt open, there might still be life left to nourish a scattered seed. Marjorie, friend of Jim Robinson, is also is a doctoral student and teaching fellow in the Theology Department at Fordham University.