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.”

Response #17 Bed Bugs

Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Amy Kienzle of Messiah and St. John’s Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood and choose the convenient and warm location of their host’s bed as their place of residence. They are not exclusively nocturnal but are most active at night, perhaps because that is when their meal is delivered in the form of a sleeping human. They feast unnoticed, leaving behind tell-tale bite marks on legs and backs that are visible when the person awakes. Infestations of bed bugs are difficult to eradicate, which makes them particularly terrifying to discover.


Prayer to the Bed Bug

O, Illusive Bed Bug, many days my waking hours are spent wandering in a hazy slumber of meaninglessness and a sense of futility. In this state of unconscious drudgery I often find it hard to know you are there, until in a glimmer of recognition I am bitten by the awareness of how you lurk hidden in the cracks and crevices of my broken life. Your invasive grace is difficult to eradicate; it infests my restless spirit with hope and promise, wakening me to the truth of your constant presence. Feast on me again this day. Amen.


Amy is challenging Pastor Emily Scott of St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, NY with:

Subway Pole at the End of the Day

subway pole

In the “City that Never Sleeps” the subway is a place of bustling non-stop activity. Those poles strategically placed for our safety play host to all kinds of invisible creatures thanks to the thousands of hands grasping throughout the day. We grab hold with trepidation, but the choice is sometimes one of fall now or be sick later.