Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011.03.30 Bible as Memoir

The Bible is a memoir. It is written from memory and out of love.

It is passionate about the unfolding of a powerful faith story written to tell how Divinity is present in transformative, creating, and healing ways—and continues to be present.

Because it describes an evolving process of understanding of the relationship between humanity and divinity over time, it is necessarily more impressionistic than literal.

Memoir is like an impressionist painting. You stand back and you see a whole picture but when you go up close you see a bunch of multicolored dots, daubs of many colors, fragments of happenings, fragments of feelings, snapshots of detail.

You remember the bright yellow dress you wore, the red tie of the man who bent over you, the dappled sky of the afternoon your first felt like a grownup when you were only eight. You zoom in and pull back, over and over until you know where all the colors belong—and maybe why.

Because the Bible was written many years after a spiritual experience, and because it is revelation-over-time, it is open-ended, and subject to multiple interpretations.

Interpretations, both individual and collective, are made in the context of time, over time. This is what makes biblical memoir Holy. It is flexible, speaking from generation to generation.

Every memoirist hopes that her own story will speak to a fraction of people— enough to be remembered—and be a little holy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011.03.25 Anniversaries: My 23rd and Mary's 2050th

I write my tears into words all the time. Some are for what I'm remembering and writing and some are just the creative act itself and all its frustrations. Do I cry or write? Both.

The beauty of holiness is not a piece of cake!  You get what you wonder and it is always delightful,also doubtful Trust both.

Biblical story satisfies the more literally-minded readers as well as those who can know through imaginative seeing.  Both/and.  Most of us dance carefully along the via media without compromising either history or spirituality. Is it true or false? Both.

Mary saw an angel. Or did she? Yes and no. When I was ordained many heavy hands were laid on my one small brown bowed head. I felt as if I were sinking and shrinking. When the hands lifted off my head my brain was so suddenly empty of any thought that I was in heaven—just for a half second. Was I? Yes and no.  

Mary followed the vision and got pregnant with a messiah. I followed mine and became a priest.

My anniversary gift to Mary this day is candied birth control pills. And to myself, a batch of chocolate chip cookies to remember God’s awakening words to me while I was lost in midlife domestic doldrums, making chocolate chip cookies, and God asked, Why are you doing this?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011.03.23 Placebo Prayer?

Moving along the placebo track I wonder if intercessory prayer has a pleasant placebo effect?

I confess that, with my memory as it is these days, and actually always, I sometimes don’t remember to pray for someone I have said I would.

I have best intentions and my caring is sincere. But I am limited. I don’t worry too much as I believe that Godde IS prayer. The sacred heart at prayer for all of us each moment —praying for me when I forget.

But sometimes people tell me they have really felt the prayers of the community, including mine, supporting them in some effort of healing or other.

I do not doubt such feelings at all. It’s a little embarrassing if I have forgotten. But I also wonder if just knowing that people INTEND to pray for you IS itself prayer.

If no one remembers to pray for you, you still have faith in their intentional good heart towards you, and so you believe they do pray for you— you feel it and it helps you. Like Eucharist.

Sounds like a good enough placebo effect to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011.03.20 Placebo Eucharist?

There is a lot of writing about the placebo effect. Evidence that something works even if you tell someone that a pill, for example, is only a placebo, has no medicinal ingredients. (Deborah Kotz, Boston Globe G, 3.7.2011)

Why? Many reasons: personality, authority says so, desire for healing/relief, suggestibility. In short, they don’t really know why placebos works.

I have wondered about the placebo effect in the Eucharist/Holy Communion. Yikes! Heresy.

Does Eucharist nurture your soul and deliver a shot of grace because it does, or because you have faith that it will in relation to your experience in a Christian community? OR because the priests told you so from when you were little, or just yesterday? OR Jesus said it in the Bible? OR Mommy said so!? OR— all of the above?

For me the Eucharist is a relational event: my faith opens to divine grace and TOGETHER they (my faith and God’s grace) make a glorious sacramental placebo.

(After all, the word placebo does derive from Latin, “I shall please.”)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2011.03.16 Moveable Feast of Justice

I wanted to be a priest because of my attraction to the Christian Church’s holy meal, a sacrament of grace called Holy Eucharist, the action of which speaks volumes to me about justice.

In a eucharistic meal everyone is invited to the table; everyone gets fed; everyone gets the same just-right amount— not too little and not too much.

This little miracle of economic distribution at the center of Christian worship should be grace enough in a culture that suffers from obesity—too much—and a dangerous widening gap between those who have and those who have not.

The other reason I wanted to be a priest of the Eucharist was because for a priest Eucharists really ARE moveable feasts. They happen on stone platforms on the Sea of Galilee and at altars in cathedrals. They happen with bread, biscuit, wafer, cracker, stale wine or fine; they happen standing, sitting, leaning, kneeling; in churches and kitchens, at bedsides, over hassocks, on floors and grass.

Justice should also be a moveable feast.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2011.03.08 International Women's Day

It's International Women's day. I dream of the vision: the blessing of wholeness in church and world— with no -isms!

It's also Mardi Gras. I savor the grace of joy and people and look forward to Lent: the precious opportunity to be quiet and alone and know myself and Godde better so I can know and love others better.

No matter your gender or what your faith, celebrate and bless yourself.

2011.03.09 Ashes. Ashes......

I think like an adult .... but I wonder like a child.

I thought “ashes ashes” was a nursery rhyme, a kid’s game (not about the Bubonic plague, btw)

I wondered if it were also the Wisdom of God reminding me that any minute now I could fall down and skin my knee, or more.

Today I thought . . . phone poles are dead trees put into service so we humans can gossip or call loved ones to make sure they are alive.

I wondered if the tall straight once-tree poles drew water from the well of the earth like living trees do, miraculously defying gravity one of our most precise and precious laws.

I THOUGHT on Ash Wednesday that the ashes in the small bowl were the remains of the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday— funeral reminders of great expectations gone sour. And I thought ashes were a powerful symbol to let us know we all will die unrequited in many ways.

I THOUGHT, then what?

I WONDERED if the ashes in the small cardboard box were really my father, at last all contained and right there to scoop up into the palms of my hands, kiss goodbye, and toss once more into the waiting hole in the damp ground.

I WONDERED, then what?

I THOUGHT Lent was a somber but not depressing time, just to stop and reflect, maybe learn a thing or two about what to do differently the next time you . . ., or he . . ., or they . . ., or it . . .

I WONDERED if Lent were really 40 days of Jesus’ starving and praying and wasting away in the desert wilderness without his Mom and Dad or any friends to love, stuck alone with an invisible God he began to call Abba.

I THOUGHT that was a crucible of unnecessary proportions for a very good man.

I WONDERED if that was why my small grandson insisted on having his door open at night, wide open to house light and moonlight, to escape, to give an opening for the sound of his voice should it call out, or to the sound of his Daddy’s footsteps running toward his open door.

Monday, March 7, 2011

2011.03.07 Reflection on Well Being

How does the phrase "my well being depends on your well being" sound? It's one of those snaky half truths. Fine, until you stop to think that it's a child's point of view, a child’s truth.

Substitute "is enhanced by" for "depends" and you have a whole truth:

My well being is enhanced by your well being. 

(You think on such things when you get older and fear for your partner’s well being—and yours.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011.03.02 Serenity Prayer for Today—and Tomorrow

Today's version of the Serenity Prayer, aka Lyn trapped in a den and din of words, trying to sort, sift, order, disorder, love and hate—and all in order to write an intimate letter to strangers! (That’s what writer Pico Iyer called writing and I call memoir writing.) Sheesh. 

God, grant me the serenity to hate my life
the courage to love what I hate
and the wisdom to know the goddamn difference.