From Transfixed to Hope: Hope Before Breakfast

I’m not much for family heritage.
So you won’t find me researching my genealogy.

I was intrigued and humoured, however,
when I first saw at least one version of the Walsh family coat of arms.

Three arrow heads to signify valiant bravery
are in tension with a goose (or swan) with an arrow
through its heart.

And if there was any doubt about what this all means,
scrolled along the top of the crest we read:
transfixus sed non mortuus.

Transfixed but not dead!
Mortally wounded, but not dead yet!
Or in the vernacular, “Never say die!”

I love it.

For a kid who was invariably on the losing side of every fight
through elementary school and early adolescence,
transfixus sed non mortuus
sums it all up quite well.!

Now, as I said, I’m not too interested in genealogy,
but I do enjoy Irish whiskey.

So when Sylvia and I were on vacation in Ireland,!
of course we had to check out the Walsh distillery.

Now there was no sign of any version of the Walsh coat of arms
on the grounds of distillery,
but at the entrance there was a stone with this inscription:”

Walsh Distillery
Where hope and history rhyme.

Now that’s a tad better than transfixus sed non mortuus!

And when an Irish whiskey maker takes as their motto,
where hope and history rhyme,”
you know that this is a clear echo of U2’s 2000 song, “Peace on Earth”.

Jesus, in the song you wrote!
The words are sticking in my throat!
Peace on earth!
Hear it every Christmas time!
But hope and history won’t rhyme!
So what’s it worth?
This peace on earth.

Now I’m not so sure that alcohol lubrication
is the remedy when such words are stuck in our throats.

Nor do I think that hope and history will finally rhyme
because of Irish whiskey, no matter how good.

But the provocative proposal
that hope and history just might rhyme
in this family operation on a beautiful property in Ireland
gave me a rare (perhaps my first!) moment
of Walsh family pride.

Seventeen years ago,
the smoke was still billowing from the World Trade Centre
when the first Wine Before Breakfast community gathered.

Hope and history did not rhyme.
So we planted this community in lament.

Obviously, this is not the usual church planting strategy.
And yet, a community grew in the soil of lament.

No sugar coating of reality for us at 7.22 on the morning!

We may be sleepy, but we will not be numb.

Hope and history may not rhyme,
but we gather nonetheless with a radical and stubborn hope.

So this year we take as our theme,

Hope Before Breakfast.

And because we never want cheap hope,
we’ll spend most of this semester in the book of Jeremiah.

Yes, Jeremiah.

In a book of 52 chapters, there are only 4 (Jer. 29-33) that offer any hope.
But what amazing chapters they are.

Jeremiah is, of course, the prophet of tears,
because he speaks in the name of a weeping God.

And so we mix our tears with that God and this prophet
as we seek a life, a faith, an imagination,
where hope and history do rhyme.

From time to time we’ll share with the Empire Remixed
something of our journey.

I hope you will join us for the ride.

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 entitled Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination.

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