Sunday, November 24, 2013
The Episcopal Sisters of St. Helena call this Sunday Christ in Majesty, mercifully avoiding exclusively gendered imagery for the risen Christ-Spirit who knows no gender.
God/Godde is fully male and fully female, and everything in between. To be true to that truth, many things will have to die to clear the way for non-gendered Divinity. Many will be hurt yet many have already been hurt by exclusive language. That's what Christian life is all about: life/death/resurrected life. Death is in the equation.
Dick and I were married on Christ in Majesty Sunday in 1986, 27 years ago. From the ashes of both of our painful divorces God,working deeply within each soul and all heart, raised up new life hope, another chance, and forgiveness.
We exchanged anniversary cards and messages and felt again how important married love can be.
His card said: "It's so wonderful to be growing and deepening together. Much love to my favorite author on our 27th anniversary." It came to me on line from the “Duke of Cambridge,” latest sobriquet Dick has chosen for himself. The card played jaunty music and showed a couple spatting, making up, sharing tears and lots of laughs as they deepened themselves. Did it make me a “Duchess?” No, but I felt like one.
My card to him congratulated us for winning the woodchuck tango, a flamboyant near-calisthenic dance that requires arithmetic grace we don’t have—nor do woodchucks. Nevertheless...on we go in clumsy majesty. I don't want it ever to die, but................
This Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church year, just before Advent begins and we await, once again, the birth of Jesus at Christmas, thank Godde with no biological pregnancy for me, too old. But we all will be pregnant with Christ. We know the story; we know the familiar cycle; we know the onset of the bleak midwinter darkness, yet each year we are expecting.
What will or must die? Out of what death will God bring new life?
I’m getting older. I neither expect nor desire to die soon but my death seems more possible, closer. At a spiritual writing course I recently taught at Grub Street in Boston, we experimented with writing beginnings, middles, and endings. I wrote this as an ending:
At the end of my life I will sit—no, I will probably lie—on a bed, maybe half of the king size bed I’ve shared with Dick. But I will be able to see, even if my eyes are morphine-dazed or cataract-dimmed. My breath will be minimal but present, the spaces between each breath growing shorter and shorter until I am breathed out. I hope to see the faces of my four children and my grandchildren for a final viewing. I will not tell them not to cry for me. Such a silly commandment really. But I will behold them as I first did, their squished- up, blind-eyed little faces at birth. And maybe I will see Dick too if he is not already dead. I don’t know if I will see him in heaven, wherever that is—or isn’t. But I will end and I will silently sing the words of a hymn I rewrote to fit my lung disease—as a prayer.
Breathe in me, breathe of God,
for when my life is done
and my sweet lungs lose all their power
my last breath and yours are one.
(Oh, I know I could be struck down tomorrow by any means but this is my foolish little plan. It’s a hope and vision.)
By faith, God will bring some kind of majesty out of my death. I know God will make that new life beautiful, like my new sky-blue earrings—whirly/spinning and cosmic.