This poem was inspired by John 17:20–21, which in
the King James Version, reads
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Of course, it is a response to those in the Anglican Communion who
believe that “being one” means that we must have uniform theological
beliefs, an idea hitherto alien to mainstream Anglicanism.
writing this poem 4/16/2011, the evening before Palm Sunday, and I
finished it two days later. I thought of the first line before I had any
idea where the poem was going. That line may seem unduly complex, but I
think it popped into my head because many of the words that St. John
puts into the mouth of Jesus seem, if taken literally and in the context
of the other three gospels, improbable. Moreover, a proper reading of
the first line stresses the word “all,” rather than the less meaningful
I wrote two verses rather quickly and could not think of what to
write in a third. I eventually concluded that two was enough.
I was not especially happy with the second verse, which seemed rather
forced in its original form. I was surprised, however, when, upon
reading a draft for a priest friend, he objected to my original third
line: “Is unity in wine and bread.” I replied that I was not questioning
the power of the Eucharist, but others were. The final version makes my
point of view clearer.
That change inspired a search to clarify the second verse, which was
Need we understand as oneThis verse, in fact,
went through many variations before reaching the version above. The
final poem achieves a greater unity than the earlier drafts.
The mysteries of God above?
Or is the life of God’s own Son
A sign that all that counts is love?
finished this poem, I was reminded of Harry Emerson Fosdick’s line from
his famous sermon “Shall
the Fundamentalists Win?” which appears on the home page of my Web
site: “Opinions may be mistaken; love never is.”
— LED, 4/18/2011