Give me, Lord, a new spiritual placenta.
The child in utero is not inert or totally helpless. Kids need protection, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. The child is in there inventing a brain and building one. Can you grow a finger? You forgot how! You are post-birth senile, totally out of it! The child is inventing and building a heart, a whole blood system, a nervous system, a spine, a knee. And then doing what all living things do: that kid is in there dancing!
The Lord gave the child one complete cell, a warm place to live, and access to nutrition via mom. And then the building began!
Access to nutrition: after a few days, the child develops a complex interface with mom’s uterus, a placenta. That’s so this smart little inventor, the little bloodsucker in there, can get the sweetness out of mom’s blood, without all the red stuff. The interface unit – the placenta – has a boundary line that is far more complex than the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay: it twists and winds and intermingles, but there is not a single cell that is confused about whether it is part of mom or part of the baby.
Sucking blood – but not like a mosquito! Mosquitoes spit! That’s disgusting, and rude! (And painful.) But a placenta just sucks quietly, taking in nutrition and sweetness, offering joy in return.
Oops. Not a good time for mom! She is going to evict the little bloodsucker, and skip the joy part! This isn’t good!
But it’s not all bad. Everyone dies, and some people die mid-dance.
Bishop Taban of southern Sudan said his people knew how to die, and they wished they could teach the rest of the Church what they had learned. What a waste! Torit, a town of 30,000 people, was besieged by the government of Khartoum in the 1980s during the Sudanese civil war, and only 2,000 survived. That’s a lot of death! They learned a lot, and wanted to share it – but we didn’t want to hear about it!
I do not know all of what they wanted to teach in Torit, but I know a little. When you draw near to death, Jesus draws near to you. When you are totally messed over, you can look sidewise and see the face of another totally screwed over person – who understands what you are going through, and shares the struggle. He looks you in the eye with com-passion. He is a com-rade, in your com-munity, in com-plete com-munion with you, and his eyes are full of intelligent com-passion.
He is not com-placent; he is not sucking blood. Instead, he offers you his blood, and you can suck his blood, and draw life from it. You need a new kind of placenta – a new life, a new birth, a new heart, a new spirit – and a new placenta. He does not share your placenta; you attach your placenta to him, and suck the sweetness out of him.