This text originally appeared in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM entitled Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea, co-produced by Teresa Berger and Lorna Collingridge (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008); reproduced by kind permission of the authors.
I have learned
in the deep South
that hope travels underground.
reach into an ocean
that carried slave trading ships
and is forever scarred
by the memory of the agony
Did hope travel westwards at all in the Middle Passage?
if not below deck?
the slaves seeking freedom would later say.
where is underground
in the ocean
traversed by slave ships
if not in the deepest depths of the tortured human soul?
Hope does travel underground,
and below deck,
and deeper than the deepest sea,
yet its whispered promise is always the same:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
Teresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School. Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of theological and liturgical studies with gender theory. Her publications include Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History; Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women. She has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She was editor of Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, essays from the 2011 ISM Liturgy Conference.