Rubem Alves have taught us to read and write. He loosened up our tongues, gave us freedom, pushed us to try things, gave us a new vocabulary and expanded the limits and sources and possibilities of theology. He was the midwife of 3 generations of theologians. He began liberation theology in Latin America along with Gustavo Gutierrez, he taught us theo-poetics, he was the one who started to think about the body, food, ecology… He gave us so much! He will be sorely missed. May his subversive memory continue to bless and encourage us. Cláudio Carvalhaes
How shall we pray to you?
Our hearts are anxious, without rest and don’t know what name to give to this feeling.
Not knowing where to go, what to do, what battles to fight, we might be tempted to take false paths, to prefer power over love, force over gentleness, violent reaction over gentle affirmation of goodness.
But we know that your Spirit loves us
Frequents us in our dreams, in the desires we don’t know how to express,
And intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.
Accept God our inarticulate groans as expressions of our petitions.
In our hunger, we need visible signs of your invisible grace.
We thirst for smiles, for gentle looks, for soft words, for firm gestures,
By truth and goodness for victories, small though they may be, of justice.
Sing to us, O God, the songs of your promises,
Serve us in the desert the manna,
And give us the grace to play and leap on your rest days, as an expression of confidence.
And may there be, somewhere, a community of women, men, old people, children, and nursing babies who may be a first fruit, an aperitif, a caress of the future. Amen
Adapted from Rubem Alves, I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body, 78 – written by Mayra Rivera Rivera
“We become theologians not because we want to and maybe we weren’t even called… I think we are like this because we are sensible, because theology speaks about life and the simplest and gravest things in it; it speaks with love using symbols and memories. That’s it. We weren’t chosen. They didn’t call us from anywhere. We are like this because we decided to hear life. To hear our heart. We hear the desire of our bodies and theology became our form of expression. We didn’t come from anywhere and we are not the owners of words. We don’t even possess them. They do what the want with us. We fly with our feet on the ground. We dance even when they call us crazy because that is who we are.
We abandon our cages and decide to dance with God and whoever chooses to enter the dance with us. We choose poems because poems are the magical expression of our bodies and theology is nothing more and nothing less than this. A Poem. A poem about God, a poem about bodies, a poem about us.
Theology is a poem of the body, the body praying, the body speaking its hopes, speaking about its fear of dying and its longing for immortality, pointing towards utopias, swords turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks… Through these words our bodies join hands, and melt into an embrace of love that sustains us to resist and continue the journey… ” Rubem Alves, Variations on Life and Death
Hope sees that which does not exist in the present. It exists only in the future, in the imagination. Imagination is the place where things that don’t exist, exist. This is the mystery of the human soul: We are sustained by that which doesn’t exist. When we have hope, the future takes hold of our bodies. And we dance. The poet that wrote these poems was intoxicated with hope. And those who are possessed by hope become pregnant with futures. Those who hear the melody of the future, plant trees under whose shade they will never sit. But it doesn’t matter. They are happy imagining those children who will tie swings to their branches.
– Rubem Alves, They Asked me if I Believe in God