Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011.02.27 Your Preferred Spiritual Posture

IF you saw and really believed that God by whatever name you call Her suddenly appeared in the flesh and stood before you smiling would you:

fall on your face prostrate before the grandeur of God?
jump for joy, toss boundaries out the window, and rush into His open arms?
bow your head and create a little steepled “church,” hands in prayer-pose
drop to your knees in reverence?
smile in return, cock your head, and wait?
drop to one knee and genuflect as you speedily cross yourself?
burst into song?
turn and run?
shout OMG! and open your arms?
head for the “hills?”

Your body doesn’t lie. It usually leads the way. What is your preferred spiritual posture, the way your body responds before you think too much?

OK...... so many of you, especially if you are Anglo-Episcopalians, will say, “It depends...” On what? Your mood? The weather? What your neighbor will see if she’s looking out the window? Your actual physical capacity?

I learned this wisdom long ago and didn’t trust it, because I thought I had more control, and I told myself I behaved differently with God than with my neighbors:

HOW YOU STAND BEFORE OTHER PEOPLE IS HOW YOU STAND BEFORE GOD.

Check it out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011.02.23 Wisdom for Writers

You sit before a blank computer screen all lit up and ready for you to come on stage. You decide to get a cup of coffee. It’s your third attempt to jumpstart yourself.

You return to your seat and stare into the blank white wilderness, which is not sand or snow, but page.

You are a writer. You are full of ideas and hopes, determination and resilience, creativity and vulnerability.

Suddenly an idea comes flying across your mental screen. “I write most eloquently when I write about grief.” You write that down. You wonder if it is a truism. Can it count for universal?

Who writes about joy? It’s too boring. Too much like Eden. No wonder Eve and Adam broke out. Another thought occurs to you: “Freedom is joyous and a very hard ethic.”

Then you remember a phrase in a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. It’s one of the closing prayers in the service of Compline said at the end of a day just before sleep.

“Shield the joyous.”

It wraps up a series of petitions: “comfort the afflicted,” “give rest to the weary,” “soothe the dying.”

Then, “... shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

Unbidden tears blur your view of the page. You remember your mother’s forced joyfulness, her many uncried tears you longed to see and share.

You begin to write about your mother’s locked heart. You write your tears into words.

You are a writer writing—and all for the sake of love.

Friday, February 18, 2011

2011.02.18 All Sacred, Yes?

Churches have a practice called de-consecration of sanctuaries that will close and likely be used for another purpose. There is a gathering of mourners probably, a bishop and a rite with prayers, etc.

I’ve never been to one of these events but today they are popular given the fact that there are many parishes in moribund states—alas.

As one who had a natural bent from childhood to consecrate stuff, and as a priest of the Eucharist, I think it odd to de-consecrate anything.

Do we imagine that we control the presence of holiness? Do we think holiness comes and goes at the wave of a hand? Do we think a secular use for a space will make it not sacred unholy?

Why not leave the building in its consecrated state and leave it to the Divine Spirit to inspire new occupants (condo owners?) or to resurrect life even after a wrecking ball comes?

(In this post there is a clue to the where is God in this “divine story” I posted just days ago. Perhaps God was in the DNR decision? Do we strive for life at all costs even if our efforts are loving?)

Monday, February 14, 2011

2011.02.14 Valentine Smooches

There are so many ancient St. Valentines that I‘ve decided this day should be designated as holy and a feast day on the liturgical calendar which currently has this day reserved for Sts. Cyril (monk) and Methodius (bishop) !

Who? Missionaries to the Slavs. But not a bad valentine couple, as monk and bishop are often at odds.

For today I think the best way to celebrate is to consider the sanctity of all life, all creation. To sacralize everything with a kiss—from the whole cosmos, to your favorite tree, to the neighborhood dog who barks too much, to your beloved significant other or friend, and of course yourself.

Pucker up. Smooch and MmmmmmmWAH!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011.02.09 In Whose Hands? A Divine Love Story

I will tell you a divine story. A love/Love story with a catch.

It’s about a child, not Jesus but christ ( you don’t have to be Christian to be a christ, divinity in human form)

A child is born in a hospital surrounded by sterile instruments and blue-scrubbed doctors and nurses. The baby’s mother is not Mary but Susie. Susie and the unborn infant do all the work.

In the waiting room a family sits on the edges of their chairs. A kindly hospital chaplain is the runner carrying reports from the birthing room.

Everyone is worried because Susie is, well, past her prime for bearing a child and this is her first.

When this modern day infant emerges to screech her welcome to planet earth everyone applauds until the nurse who has cleaned and wrapped the child hands her to Susie and says “I’m so sorry.”

The little girl had multiple birth defects, some visible and some invisible, some physical and some mental, all of them life threatening.

When the father came out to tell the assembled loved ones he was crying. What was wrong? He had to tell them, “Our little girl is not perfect.”

The family surrounded the couple and their deformed daughter with love—and commitment to give this child every privilege of human life they could offer, and to keep her alive as long as possible.

As time went on the child grew to her teens. She was cheerful and a delight to all who met her, but because of her condition her affect was always bright and did not register other feelings.

The girl spent more time being rushed to the hospital for resuscitation and other procedures than in her parents’ embrace. Each time the family would gather and pray and each time the child would be brought back to life. Over and over. And each time the family would rejoice and praise God. Another day of life for their beloved daughter.

Anne, a neighbor and good friend of the family’s sighed heavily and said to a friend. “Honestly if she were my girl I’d have instituted a DNR long ago.”

“What? I can’t believe you’re saying this.” responded her friend with a glare of disapproval. Anne gave her not an apology or an explanation but her tears.

What is divine in this story? Where is Love?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011.02.02 A Costly Wound to Clean Up

Today, according to the Church’s liturgical calendar, we remember the Feast of the Presentation today.

Briefly it’s when Jesus goes public. His parents bring him to the Temple to be presented, declared holy to the Lord God, and get circumcised into the covenant—the first of many wounds to his innocent flesh.

I think of this day as the feast of vulnerability, a time to be aware of the limitations of our common humanity.

When I was being rejected, unjustly I thought, in the Episcopal church for ordination many years back a wise woman told me something I never forgot. The now late Madeleine L’Engle, author and faithful Christian who died a few years ago, said to me. “When you get ordained, and you will, do not become a little man!”

Do it differently, I took that to mean.

It does not escape my, yes feminist non-nazi type, notice that it is women who will pay the price now for becoming part of the patriarchal ways of cheating the system as if it doesn't matter much because of the value of "good" patronage for "sound" political gains!!  

Two immediate examples: Dianne Wilkerson and Patrice Tierney. Of course I am generalizing to make a point and severity of misconduct varies, but when the men decide at last that we all are equal, with respect to crime and punishment, under the law, it may be the women who end up in jail. 

Of course it is possible that the public will conclude that it was because Patrice Tierney was a woman that her tax fraud crime happened, too soft, helping her brother, her family, etc, etc. But I think it's a good chance for Congressman John Tierney as a good man and husband to do a role switch: to stand behind his woman while she is handcuffed and led off for her body search and prison garb.

That noted, it is still time to clean house. I'm proud of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for doing so in the Parole Board.  Public safety and public health are transcendent goals.

Personally I am sad that people think it’s okay to cheat, to be immoral. It hurts all of us.

But if the good God spirit has a say in this, these women and others who pay the consequences of a long corrupt system may serve also as noble and humble examples in a system where true justice, not classist/racist/sexist manipulations, will prevail.