Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016.01.10 Little Epiphanies

Dedicated to……..
            and their
          Dedication by David Whyte for Consolations, Meanings of Everyday Words,  2014, 
                an alphabet book of solace, nourishment and underlying meanings.

What Shepherds Do

Shepherds keep watch still.
Shepherds stood stock still
   agaze, agape, light-struck at night

We imagine them sore afraid
We are sure they made haste to follow

But no……………

They stood still to watch over their sheep.
What shepherds are made to do.

Stand still. God knows where you are.
                      Lyn Brakeman, 2016 

A Hymn and a Poem
I have enormous respect for the spirituality of Anglican hymnody, both its texts and its music. I love to sing and discover that voices age like everything else. I’d get depressed if I didn’t also put trust and hope in evolution: everything will change in order to grow. We don’t lose the old and familiar, though we add to it, amend it, and seek nourishment in resources and people outside our own tradition, to let more light in. Have you noticed that each time we let light in to grow we die a little too?  It must be so.

        To die and so to grow. If you have not experienced this
        you are only a dark guest on a lonely planet.

                             Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,“The Holy Longing”

Thus it may seem odd that my favorite hymn is quite outside the Anglican comfort zone. The music is classical yet the text is offered as a hymn in the Unitarian Universalist Hymnal. It is an anthem of peace, both for religions and nations: love what you love, and hold it dear enough to be able to love what others hold dear.

Finlandia   music by Jean Sibelius, lyrics of Finnish Anthem translated to English

This is my song, O God of all the nations
A song of peace, for lands afar & mine
This is my home, the country where my heart is
Hear are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine

Holy Scripture  John 1:14 in the New Revised Standard Version.

Tiny words can make a big difference. This Advent I’ve been praying with some scriptural texts, all very familiar, but, by paying attention and by repetition, I have noticed them in new ways. One example popped up in St. John's Mystery of the Incarnation......of all places.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

So? The translators have chosen this wording over alternative translations that say: “as of the Father’s only son.” The use of the indefinite article “a” instead of the definite article “the” to modify father, in addition to the elimination of the capital F for father makes the phrase metaphoric, signifying a profound affectional bond. God is to Jesus as a father is to an only son. (Remember those Miller analogy tests?) Any father? Any parent? Any son or daughter? Divinity to humanity? The phrase is allowed to be symbolic rather literal. It can not easily be used to justify any claim to Christian superiority or exceptionalism.
Little things mean a lot.  So do little choices.