Benediction for Unity

It is hard to admit this
because we are kind people
but we wouldn’t know unity from contempt
we wouldn’t know togetherness from war
we wouldn’t be able to say that the church body is whole
we are too mixed up with who is for us and who is against us
we forget the one who triumphed over all to make us free.
too busy separating white from colors,
Christians from Muslims and gays from all the rest of us
We need to take a moment to breathe.

When did we begin seeing someone by their identifier as opposed to their personhood,
their God-marked image, their smile, their eyes, their body
that isn’t that much more desperate, more lonely,
more hungry than you & I.

You see we need to address our lack of unity, our broken harmony,
yes we are sojourning toward a land of truth but can’t even hear the honesty swelling in our brother’s tongue. Today I am grateful,

grateful that there is another chance to face my failure.
Another opportunity to look at my betrayers in the mirror and say I am sorry.

And He knows that we are desert wanderers, beat up bodies looking for water and rest. And God accepts us. He accepts it all.

He takes the brokenness and the fear of the unknown and makes us able. And I am still learning to walk in my ability. Turns out that running in the desert is easier than kneeling on a mountain top.

And unity, truth is—it’s a nasty word.
It brings out our ugly, the things we buried 6 feet under.
But we need to face it, we need to allow the things haunting us to be carried by our tribe. Because together we shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday. . .

and let that someday be now,
we need urgency in this pursuit because our hearts beat
on the same time as the stars and together, our arms are winged and spiraling
into unknowns with fierce joy that only God,
who himself is unified,
three-in-one,
who spun the planets on a shared rhythmic meter, can give.

God, who can create unity,
like a mother braiding your hair,
is careful yet strong in bringing us together.
God who calls us to show up,
to no longer divide ourselves,
to listen and forgive and remember that we are forgiven.

To plant ourselves with hands wide open,
like petals unfolding with morning dew,
ready for the glorious trial of unity,
the hymn that awakens our being—the body, many parts, broken
yet together whole, singing our own shared rhythm on the meter to our maker.

Katelyn Durst is a community artist, creative activist, teacher, and youth worker. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years and has taught poetry for six years, recently conducting poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital, and for Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color. Katelyn is currently pursuing a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University with a focus on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. In her spare time, she dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper. She is poet-in-residence at The Mudroom, where this poem first appeared.

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