Wild Lectionary: Baptized in Dirty Water

08b16ba9-5421-4489-912d-90b3f2b9ff43Proper 10(15) B
By Tevyn East and Jay Beck

Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead.” Mark 6:14

No shape. No symbols. Everything fluid. Everything wind and water.
God created chaos.
Swirling swamp potential of formlessness.
Only out of this swirling chaos can any creation be born.

I see.
I hear.
I feel.

many trying.
many hoping.
for a new creation.

For the depth of what we have made is sinking.
it is finally sinking.
is it sinking in?
we must let it sink.
let it sink.
let it sink in.

the Chaos waters are throbbing again. they are pulling, pulling with the moon.
the old, old tidal, tribal rhythms
back to the deep.  back to the dark.

They asked me to go see.
They asked me to go find out.
Who will walk through this threshhold?

How many of those that are praying for newness know what they have to
pass through?
How many would if they knew what must come?

How many will come and swim?
How many will let themselves be submerged?
Who will drown for the sake of re-emerging as a new creation?

Who among them will stop being watered-down and truly go down into the water?

go find them–says wind and water.
Who will enter the dark and deep?

And I am John. known to many as the baptizer. And I walked back into a different river. I came howling out from the wilderness to share what the wild taught me. And

 What did I learn on the wild desert mountainWhen hell came dancing on the noon-day rocks?

I learned my hands could hold
Rivers of water And spend them like an everlasting treasure.
I learned to see the waking desert
Smiling to behold me with the springs her ransom, Open her clear eyes in a miracle of transformation,

All barrenness and death lie drowned
Here in the fountains the Lord has sanctified,
the deep harps of Jordan
Playing to the world that it can become heaven.

I went into the desert to receive
The keys of my deliverance
From image and from concept and from desire.
I learned not wrath but love,

It is because my love, as strong as steel, is armed against all hate

That those who hate life fear me like a tidal wave.

and I came as another echo, thousands of waves later, another refrain of your song that was still and is still the memory and hope of our liberation.

we all must be baptized in dirty water
because all the water is dirty

we have fouled our wells
the well is poisoned. toxic. sludge.

we have damned the water.
we damn the water
we damage the water

Triclosan soap
infused in our blood
arsenic and radiation
contaminate the mud
shoot the diesel down the frack hole
and poison the well
light your water on fire
and welcome to Hell.

This is not the good way.

This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Return to the rain. Follow the polluted water back down through the
poisoned soil. Drink this toxic brew you have made until we sink deep
enough back to the roots.

this baptismal call is a warning that your sanitation will not transform you!
your underground sewer systems do not hide the rising stench of your spiritual decay!
This is not a call for more programs or for technological advancement.  this is not shopping advice about how to consume responsibly. this is a call to put your face in the mess you’ve made and feel the grief of the waters.

This is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord. and I will baptize you with this dirty water, but the one who comes after me will baptize with fire.

let us go back to the source.
let us wade through deep water and try to find our way Back home.

These reflections on the Baptizer and the life and death realities of our current ecological crisis are excerpts from Carnival de Resistance’s show “Wade Through Deep Water” which draw from the poetry of Thomas Merton. Carnival de Resistance is about to embark on a two-week residency in Philadelphia.

Tevyn East integrates her artistic gifts with faith-led resistance through her production company Holy Fool Arts. She produced and performed a one-woman show entitled “Leaps and Bounds” that critiques the growth-oriented economy and its impact on the earth, and which toured to more than 150 communities around North America and was made into a film in 2011. She is the director of the Carnival de Resistance, a traveling carnival, village, and school that focuses on ecological justice and radical theology.

Jay Beck is a percussionist, vocalist, drum-maker, and educator who has been performing, teaching, touring and recording professionally for many years, including as a member of the band Psalters. He seeks to aid resistance movements and develop reconciliation through studying the art forms and spirituality of oppressed nomadic and indigenous communities. He is a core organizer for the Carnival de Resistance and collaborates with his partner Tevyn East in Philadelphia to present theater that emphasizes the voice of the divine inside creation.

Wild Lectionary is a weekly blog on ecological justice themes in scripture, curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territory.



One thought on “Wild Lectionary: Baptized in Dirty Water

  1. clancy dunigan

    Bravo Jay Beck. May your poetry continue to fill the cup & overflow into the reader/hearers life. Adalente’/Forward.

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