(Dedicated to the Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Garang, Bishop of Bor, Episcopal Church of Sudan after a chance meeting on the path at Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mountains of North Carolina) First published in Women’s Uncommon Prayers, Morehouse Publishing, 2000.
The bishop blessed my Fiona, with hands dark and strong,
Hands that embrace the Cross where shrapnel shards – MIGs and RPGs burning villages and forcing flocks to flee –
Are by fusion and faith transformed.
The bishop blessed my Fiona, on his knees, eye level.
Eyes dark and strong, over-full with pain, and with the memory of a man with Cross and Bible,
Murdered and dismembered,
His scattered pieces Multiplied into 32,000 martyrs-to-be.
The bishop blessed my Fiona and me, her mother.
How could he help but think of other mothers? And of children: Burlap sacks struggling, then quietly sinking in the Nile, Dying in desert dust and dung, or branded and sold.
The currency of the Cross.