Bones - a reflection on John 6:1-21

William Loader

Dust on her muddy feet,
still smeared from the wet and now blue with cold,
hands stretched out in a meaningless pose of begging;
for UN relief supplies reach the camp only late in the afternoon.
Drawn faced children with bulging bellies,
listless, some sleeping, many dying.
Time.. time to live and time to die.
Time to think - if only, but too tired, too undernourished,
time but no strength to be profound, to reflect, to meditate;
makes the dying easier, the pain less revolutionary.
So don't ask me to think.

Why do you want to tell me stories about food?
Why torment me with your miracles of plenty?
Where have the bread breakers gone?
If only there were such multipliers of loaves and fish.
We'll give them the fish. We'll offer the loaves.
But these are your fantasies,
romantic images of antiquity,
best left to their glint and passed by.
They never were a model for future followers.
At most they are remnants of propaganda,
stunning feats to woo the faithful,
who crown him king.

No bread left over for us,
all the baskets are empty.
All the bellies are full, bloated with nothingness,
crimping weak limbs.

Why are you so hungry?
Why so insatiable?
Why so greedy?
Why so obsessed to munch on stories of plenty,
meals you will never understand,
cardboard catering,
hamburgers and slick chicken served with chips,
feasts at every corner,
gorging without the world's consent,
consumption without communion?

Come with me to the dark places.
See the stones that cry out.
Watch him, poised to market bread from rock,
poised to fail, poised for fantastic feats.
Watch him pathetically hungry,
see his dark eyes,
hear his words, not even his own:
not by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The mouth of God,
not all consuming,
but giving: words of grace, of hope, of counsel.

See him that dark night
upon the deep restless craving
that threatens to engulf him,
drawing him into universal oblivion,
the ocean of acclaim,
ready to drown the spirit,
swallow the word.
He beats a path on the deep,
the magic of the monsters
turned triumphant for good
and light and life and generosity.
'It is I!'
'It is I!'

Yeah, it's him alright.
Come on you guys, James and John,
Let's drag the boat up,
look at this pile of fish!
How many do you reckon? 153.
Funny kind of a breakfast, BBQ style.
And so it all began: the BBQ.
Put some more snaggers on there,
turn up the gas, makes them real brown.
Here's the tomato sauce,
bloody tomato sauce, can't do without it!

Bloody tomato sauce,
bloody good wine.
It's blue under my skin when I'm cold.
You can see it.
It sticks out, sometimes with little nobs,
bits where there's a crossover or a junction.
When you've got no fat,
you can see them like rivers, rivers of blood,
running down your bones.
One thing about bones;
everything else goes, but they're still there,
like coat hangers, coat hangers for corpses.

There's always this ache,
down here.
Always this ache.
You fill it with Coca Cola,
but it's still there.
It needs blood.
It needs wine.
It needs bread.
Why don't you feel the ache?
Why don't you feel the ache?

I am going to die, like my son.
Corpse, bones, innocent, unbroken.
Don't feed me, not now!
No offerings.
Just receive my word,
the voice of an old dying woman,
who has given birth.
And don't cry for me.
Cry for my children.
Here, look, my son, my children.
Here, look: bread and wine.

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