The Other Is The Other Is The Other – a liturgy

From an untitled event held in Belfast on 4th November, 2012. Written by Colletta Tracey. With both ‘The Others’ (on screen) and the attendees participating together, this was the closing liturgy of the evening.

Here we are. Bodies with spaces between. Together and alone.  Join with me, with everyone as we say the only sentence we can about ourselves and each other:

“We do not know”

To the strange, disturbing, physical presence of others we are so close to and yet can never understand. The slow-dawning reality that others are beyond our control, our rules, our lines, our categories.  We say the only words we can about each other:

“We do not know”

We delight in the dangerously beautiful knowledge of the presence of others which makes us so fragile by pulling us apart – aching to be known, and longing to hide. We confess our confusion of the other as we whisper:

“We do not know”

And we acknowledge those moments of intimacy, where others call us out of ourselves, we delight in shattering the barriers… and then recognise the reality that other lines, and classifications will replace them. Where we can look in the eyes of those we are closest to and say lovingly:

“We do not know”

Even as we look at our own reflections, we admit that we see through a glass, darkly. We marvel at the strangest other in our lives – our own selves – who we continually surprise and disgust, and delight. And we have hope for the future because we can say about ourselves:

“We do not know”

As we confront our fear of difference and our destructive desire for conformity and unity, we move towards being comfortable with the awkwardness of our division. Skins that mean we will always be separate and so life-givingly intertwined. And so we say to each other:

“We do not know”

Many of us are gathered here tonight because at one point or another, maybe yesterday, maybe today, we have been drawn to Jesus of Nazareth. We may have heard he had all the answers. We may have heard that he would make everything okay. We may have heard many things. But he asked some of his followers “who do you say that I am” and we find goodness and truth in this answer:

“We do not know”


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