Iggy’s Gift

UnknownIt was one of his last works of art.
It was a gift to us and it captured it all.

Greg Spoon was better known to folks
at Wine Before Breakfast,
his community at Sanctuary,
and on the street,
as “Iggy.”

And his gift of art to us said it all.

A loaf of bread and a bottle of wine.
A goblet and a table laden with fruit.
A candle and a Bible.
A musical staff scrolled across the page,
with “Wine Before Breakfast”
written where the notes would be.
And a butterfly, a symbol of transformation.

Iggy ‘got it.’
He knew what WBB was about,
and he knew that community happens around a table.

The only question was,
what to put on the bottle?
What should be written on the label of that wine bottle?
As he asked me that question,
he pulled a bottle of “Kelly’s” out of his bag.

Kelly’s – the cheapest wine on the market.cq5dam.web.1280.1280
Kelly’s – a sweet sherry that was the choice
of down and out winos.
Kelly’s – what Iggy drank when he was off the wagon.

“Maybe we should put this on it,” Iggy suggested.
“Yes,” I replied, “that is exactly what you should put on that label.”

Iggy got it.

Yes, community happens around the table.
Yes, community is forged as we eat and drink together.
And yes, we come to that table deeply broken.
So it only makes sense that we would drink Kelly’s.

Take, this is my body broken for you.
Take, this is my blood poured out for many.

Can we receive the blood of Christ in the form of Kelly’s?
Can this sacrament be celebrated with Kelly’s?
Can we redeem even Kelly’s,
and all that this cheap sherry symbolizes,
through prayer and shared communion?

Iggy knew that we could.
And so Iggy inscribed “Kelly’s” on that bottle.

Iggy died on March 17,
a day shy of his forty-seventh birthday.

This First Nations brother had seem some hard times.
He was bruised and broken, acquainted with grief.
He was a teacher, an artist, a man of deep wisdom.

And he befriended Wine Before Breakfast.
He would get himself out of bed from time to time
to come to church at 7.22 on a Tuesday morning.
And he gave us this gift of art,
this gift that so totally gets what the Kingdom is all about,
this gift that so evocatively captured Wine Before Breakfast worship.

On the two Tuesday mornings that Iggy was in the hospital,
we placed his art work on the altar,
and during communion, bread and wine
were placed before the picture.

Then, at the end of each service,
two members of the community would receive the sacrament.

“The body of Christ, broken for Iggy.”
“The blood of Christ, poured out for Iggy.”

Well, we stopped doing that after our brother died.
We don’t need to eat the bread and drink the wine for Iggy anymore.

But I’m really looking forward to the Supper of the Lamb,
when we’ll eat together again.
I’m looking forward to that feast of resurrection.

And every time I take the bread and drink the wine,
every time I grab a coffee and a muffin on a Tuesday morning,
every time I look at Iggy’s gift,
I’ll remember, I’ll hope, I’ll wait.

———————————-

Here is a peek at Iggy’s gift. For a better reproduction see here.

WBB:Iggy

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian and the CRC Campus Minister at the University of Toronto. He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

2 Responses to “Iggy’s Gift”

  1. A victim of his abuse.

    It is unfortunate that I can only remember Greg Spoon as a remorseless, cruel bully. I knew him in 7th and 8th grade. He tortured me mercilessly. He abused me physically, daily. He abused me verbally, daily. I have never met anyone so utterly cruel. I have struggled with horrible memories of his abuse of me since the early 80’s. I still, three-plus decades later, have nightmares and flashbacks of the things he did to me. That is his legacy for me. I am not here to condemn him. I am here to speak my side of the story, because I will always struggle with forgiving him. I hope he is at peace. It seems he became a different person when he grew up. For that I can only thank God. Only God could have changed the heart of the violent and vicious young person I knew back then. We feel sorry for him because he was a talented artist and deep down apparently had a nugget of gold in his heart. But we can’t ignore the people he harmed. You can choose to see the positive legacy he left, but you cannot ignore the other side of the coin: the terrible things he did to harm others. I am glad that he had people in his life to love and guide him. But the scars he put on my life will always remain. I will struggle with forgiveness, as I said. This is the other burden he left me. I am told to forgive, as God forgave me. I will try. But I will also always speak the truth.

    Reply
    • Brian Walsh

      Dear friend: I have no desire to cover up the violence that was so much part of Iggy’s life. And in the community here in Toronto we knew that violence. Indeed, he was for some time banned from the community, which was, of course, a deeply desperate and tragic decision that was taken. But he came back. And in his later years, there was a change in Iggy. A change that created a possibility for some to become close to him, and to learn to love him as the broken child of God that he was. I am sorry that you bear these scars, and I pray that God will continue to bring healing in your life. Thank you for your openness in sharing your story.

      Reply

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