power in the blood

power in the blood June 19, 2016

This guest post is by Jill Crainshaw.

I have been searching for what to say or even think about the Orlando massacre. All words fail. The story of the hundreds of donors who gave blood for those who were wounded inspired this poetic response:

power in the blood

aunt gertrude played the antique upright in church every sunday
sometimes by ear
sometimes the old-timey way
reading notes shaped like diamonds or triangles
but the hymn she cherished most
her fingers knew by heart

power in the blood
wonder-working power

as much as i loved to hear gospel favorites
spilling from Aunt Gertrude’s fingers
blood hymns troubled my soul
too violent
too brutal
i knew even as a kid
how much life and hope
the old old story had bled out over the years

early that vicious sunday morning
shots rang out
precious blood
wonder-working blood
spilled out
on the dance floor
in the streets
spattering shoes
police officers

as we gathered for church that day
several states away
in orlando they did it the old-timey way
by heart
for those too often discarded
disremembered now dismembered
a mile-long vein opened up
friends and strangers enfleshing care

until a flood of plasma pulsated through the city
into wounded souls
and as my little group of worshipers
lined up at the communion table
to eat the bread
drink the cup
share the holy body
i remembered that old hymn flowing out from
aunt gertrude’s hands and for
the first time i heard it hint the only truth it could
there is

power in the blood


Jill CrainshawAbout Jill Crainshaw
Jill Crainshaw is a PCUSA minister and Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is the author of several books on worship and ministry.

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