Creative Nonfiction

A Righteous Bender

Calix meus inebrians quam praeclarus est!
(My chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!)


It was strange, but in the pre-service prayer that Sunday, as I began to feel the crushing presence of God and to slip into the intense spiritual intoxication we commonly call “speaking in tongues”—as my prayers in English began to give way to a language that, in sound, could be every language, or none—the words that came to my mind were not from the Bible. I sensed these words so strongly and clearly, it was as if someone was whispering them in my ear. But they didn’t belong to any prophet or apostle. Instead, the words that came to my mind were Chaucer’s: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.…

I had often heard my husband shout these words to himself as he walked back and forth in our tiny apartment and prepared to teach The Canterbury Tales to his high school English students. But this time, a jolt ran through me as I felt them and considered their meaning—“When April with its sweet-smelling showers has pierced the drought of March to the root.…” I began to cry out aloud. My mouth could not form familiar words.

My mouth was out of my control. Whatever words were coming out of me at that point, they meant this: pierce through. I was really starting to slip now—three sheets to the wind, in a holy way. Rhythmic sounds, very like a language, yet unintelligible to me, began to gush out of me like water out of a broken water main. And then I was fully gone. Under the influence of an intoxicating God.

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About The Illustrations
ATIYA JONES is a multidisciplinary artist who employs abstraction and a range of media—including ink drawings, photography, collage, graphic design, and fiber—to investigate subjects such as selfexploration, womanhood, human migration, and gentrifica