Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Wild Goose

Things bubbling up today. You know those times? When little bubbles of spirit come to the surface.

Tonight I attended a talk at my church led by two people who recently went on pilgrimage to the Iona community, on a teeny island in Scotland. Many many people go on pilgrimage there each year. Its site is one of the oldest in Christianity. It's a community dedicated to ecumenism, refreshing inclusive and creative liturgy, stewardship of the environment, peace, and activism in the world. Man, I want to go there.

One of the travelers talked about the worship services. They sounded amazing. Full of expansive poetic language, with gaelic hints. And theatrical interesting ideas for worship services. As I listened, it was like my soul perked up. like a little puppy taking a snooze then smelling something interesting and pricking up its ears.

This notion of finding new ways to worship, and working with language, music and the arts is so at the heart of this vocation I'm feeling out. Okay, duh, no news there, I suppose. Most clergy thrive in this arena. But as I feel my way in the dark, this is definitely a candle that lights my path. Maybe it's my theatre background. Maybe it's my love of language and music. But it all comes together in the creating of meaningful liturgy. And I have very little experience in this. But it so attracts me. And there is definitely a nugget in here about ecumenism. One of the most powerful worship services I experienced was the Thomas Mass. It got it's start in Finland and it's an example of bringing together all our varied Christian traditions into one service, sprinkled with embodied, incarnational ways to reflect on the scripture or sermon. Very cool.

And sometimes I wonder if I'm in the wrong denomination. Wrong for me, that is. I've only officially been an Episcopalian for two years. I was raised in the Presbyterian church. The Anglican liturgy was so new and ancient and poetic for me...my heart lurched toward it and for some reason(s) it's the only church I've ever been able to picture myself ordained into. I also like the "big tent" philosophy in the Anglican tradition and the "middle way." But sometimes I wonder if I'm acting too impulsively.

Anyway, some things that I loved about tonight were the Iona tradition of likening the Holy Spirit to a wild goose, as opposed to a little dove. The holy spirit as noisy and swift and disturbing and wild. I love this.

She also spoke of faith as an adventure. Yes.

And of course I so resonate lately with this notion of pilgrimage. That we are all pilgrims on ajourney to discover the holy...in the world around us, in those we meet on the way, in ourselves. Just beautiful.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Alexander and the No Good Horrible Very Bad...

Utterly ridiculous, this day. I am so beaten down and discouraged. Granted, it's that time of the month and I truly have a rough time for a few days a month. But the absurdity, the humor, the ridiculous of my humanity: this morning I proudly announced to Husband that I have a new strategy with my four year old who has been exhibiting adolescent horrible attitude towards me. Instead of getting mad and punishing her, I planned to "disarm her with love." To look at her slyly and say, "Oh, love, you just need a big hug!" I told Husband I was going to practice Jesus' non-violence with my 4 year old and love the enemy. Well...it unraveled immediately. We went off to the store to buy dance clothes/shoes for her new class. The unstable element was bringing the two year old, but I had no choice. So there we were in this teeny dressing room trying on jazz leotards and pants and it all went to hell. So much for my calm confident parenting. My older daughter transformed (as she has been lately) into her bratty disrespectful attitude persona and began her barrage of insults. This utter disrespect just unravels me. Especially when we're in public. I lost it. And I lost my authority. And I continue to lose her respect. I feel like a total failure.

But we just had bed time. And we made up. And we prayed.

...And just to continue to spiral in my negativity, Husband is off to rehearsal for the night and I am reminded that my entire existence revolves around taking care of the girls and the home and sometimes I get so resentful. I have a one-day retreat for the hospital chaplaincy coming up. I haven't been able to do the chaplaincy for the last month because I can't find childcare that morning. But this retreat has been on the calendar. Well it turns out his mother (who I love) is arriving in town to see his play and that's wonderful, but of course it's the same day I have this retreat. So yes, I could still go on the retreat, but it would be kind of rude. Of course, Husband can't spend the day with his mom cause it's a work day. And this is my struggle: because he earns the paycheck, my "volunteer" commitments must take second priority...and therefore they can't be commitments.

Sometimes I think women had it better when we had fewer choices. In some ways, the family life was better off when women were just expected to live only in the domestic sphere. Now that there is choice and possibility, I struggle with these issues.

Sorry for the venting. It's just one of those days.

But the night air is gorgeous. My children are in bed. A friend is coming over for a glass of wine and a heart to heart. Husband vacuumed the house before he left.

It's all okay.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

Husband was checking news online last night and he said to me, "Honey...Madeleine L'Engle died." I burst into tears. She was a soul mate. And I'm glad she's with God. She was 88. But I am missing her. Just knowing she's not alive on this planet with me.

A tribute from her book Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art:

Time is to be treasured, worked with, never ignored. As the astrophysicists understand time now, it is not like a river, flowing in one direction, but more like a tree, with great branches and smaller limbs and twigs which may make it possible for us to move from one branch to another, as did Jesus and Moses and Elijah, as did St. Andrew and St. Francis when they talked with each other in that light of love which transcends all restrictions of time. Kairos. Real time. God's time. That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unself-conscious and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are constantly checking our watches for chronological time. The saint in contemplation, lost (discovered) to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside himself in the game, be it building a sandcastle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching the wonder of creation. This calling should not be limited to artists -- or saints -- but it is a fearful calling. Mana, taboo. It can destroy as well as bring into being.

so there you have it. I could have spent all night coming up with the perfect L'Engle quote, but that is what was in front of me when I opened one of her books. She is forever in kairos now, and maybe even more likely to touch our lives now without our knowing it.

Thank you, Madeleine.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday Five: on Overcoming

Sally at Revgals give us this week's Friday Five:

1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...

As many of the revgals have mentioned, I've always felt an abiding presence of God. God's always been faithful. It's I who have been unfaithful...to myself, to my God, to my life. And this brings me to...

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?

That is when I feel like I'm experiencing a dark night of the soul...when I feel God, yes, but I don't feel me. Does this make sense? And I'm there now, folks. So I choose to choose to trust. And to continue to rest in that presence I feel. And to TRY to have a sense of humor about it all. But it's hard. And in my worst moments I take it out on my daughters. :(

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

My favorite hymn is "Be Thou my Vision."
And I love this Bible verse: "When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord." Jeremiah 29:12-14

But ya know, I've read some posts of yours that express a reality that challenges this promise of God's. Who knows? Maybe there is an intentional withdrawing that God does sometimes. But I struggle with that possibility. It's too close to the notion that God causes suffering. Which brings me to...

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?

Yes of course, a very valid question. And no answers. Sometimes I think of C.S. Lewis' analogy of the blows of the sculptor's chisel are what create and reveal the beauty and potential that was hidden beneath the raw stone. But seems a little simple. Dunno.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

Hmmm. Not sure. I think I'd celebrate by truly being full of joy in the moment. Of living that moment whomever I'm with fully with joy and presence. Because whenever I come out of a dark and difficult time, just the day to day moments feel free and joyful when not shadowed and burdened with darkness. And alas, PERSPECTIVE, that healer and merry-maker comes again.