For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet…
The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That cuts the cancered, ailing heart;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Remaining always even as He stands apart.
Our only health is the disease
Whose charted passage trails the hearse
To where our lamentations cease
Save those that tell of our, and Adam’s curse–
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
The whole earth is our hospital,
Afflicted now as once it was
When dust like dust to earth would fall,
Instead of seeking out the secret cause
By which the world could come to reckon with its loss.
For dripping blood our only drink,
And bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
But hands that washed the wearied feet
Now wash the makeshift mask and gown
The dying nurse will bring to meet
The patient who, as silence bears her down,
Professes: look, the wounded surgeon wears a crown.
Adapted from “East Coker” by T. S. Eliot
Daniel Shin is a sophomore in Quincy House studying philosophy and mathematics.