Response #18 Subway Pole


Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Emily Scott from St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, NY.

Loving God, your son Jesus told us that it’s not what goes into someone’s mouth that defiles them but what comes out of their mouths that defiles them. Trapped underground in an poorly ventilated subway car, what comes out of their mouths defiles me, too. In the winter months, the crush of your beloved children around me cough and hack, sneeze and spray, releasing an invisible, germ-ridden mist upon the subway pole I cling to. I know that you knit each of us together in our mother’s womb and called us all by name, God, but one of us has urinated in the corner of the car, and as we incline toward 14th street, it is trickling toward my shoe. Still God, in these moments, I remember that each hand that has touched this pole before me (though a study by Weil Cornell Medical College reveals that it may have been carrying Enterococcus bacteria, found in fecal matter, or Acinetobacter bacteria which may give me strep throat or maybe even a flesh eating bacterial infection) is the hand of one of your beloved children, with whom you are well pleased, despite the fact that your beloved children don’t always wash their hands after using the restroom, which is really gross. God, I thank you for this subway pole, for through it, I find communion (through a billion microscopic organisms) with God’s people, and through them, with you. AMEN.

CHALLENGE: Emily Scott challenges Pastor John Flack of Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Manhattan, NY to see God in “that stuff that you have to clean out of the drain in the bottom of the sink.”

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