Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
When it comes to dismantling the systemic injustices of this broken world, of course we can learn from historians and sociologists. But if we really want to be God's instruments of change, we'll favor His wisdom over ours. We'll gather, we'll pray, we'll listen for the Spirit. And we'll feast on Scripture until it's running down our chins.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma of which we find the ultimate meaning in our interpersonal relationships."
Friday, February 13, 2009
I broke my own rule today. I gave forty bucks knowing that at least some of it will probably go for booze and cigarettes for Shawn and his wife. Most of it will go for food. They are crashed in the apartment of a pot smoker who eats all their groceries in the night, but it’s that or a panel van under the bridge. Not much of a choice with nighttime lows heading for the teens. Meanwhile, they wait for the outcome of the low-income housing lottery.
I’ve always been partial to the margins—those spaces that frame the story, a whiteness that begs to be marked with argument and response or, as in ancient Bibles, the extravagance of precious pigments, silver and gold leaf. Illuminated texts, they are called: shot through with color and light.
And now I find myself in a new kind of margin, skirting the edges of the crowd. Where I’m traveling, the drunk on the sacristy steps interrogates this story titled “America in the 21st Century” or maybe just “Humanity.” Two young boys running the streets after dark duck into the bright light of the parish hall, all tough and bluster, for their only meal of the day. These margins are filled with question marks, broken windows, expired tokens. But also written here are love and mercy and worship. Everywhere: the fingerprints of God.
Alongside the story of the deaf homeless woman—her baby due in February—a jotted memory: the liquid green of light through leaves, lush hum of wings from the dogwood tree. There is nothing so merciful as a swarm of bees. Throbbing with life, singular of mind, they endure the cold. All winter, the innermost bees migrate outward toward the cold, making room for those on the edges to migrate in. It’s a perpetual dance, an unwritten contract, a blurring of margins that defies even January.
“Meet me here tomorrow, 12:30. You can store your food in the church refrigerator until your housing gets sorted out.” I waved goodbye from the doorway.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
And yes, I can see the thin line of not-quite-clean against the baseboards. Every so often during a so-called "spring cleaning"--which doesn't happen every spring--I deal with those edges. But mostly I've replaced Mom's rule with my dad's: "If you can't see it from the highway . . ."
I remembered this kitchen floor epiphany yesterday while wielding a sponge mop over linoleum that hadn't seen said mop in a very long time. (Let's just say, Mom would have been horrified.) I thought about how easily and unconsciously we adopt the rules set forth by those we love.
Except when it comes to God. God's rules--love God, love others--are fewer and far simpler than my mother's "purity laws" yet so much more challenging. And maybe this is why religious orders spell it all out in a "rule of life" their members must follow--a detailed explication of what those two simple rules actually look like when lived out.
For my friends who wonder what a rule of life looks like, check out a bit of Benedict's rule. The length and scope of The Rule of Benedict suggest he was something of a micromanager. But he's not alone. The Order of Julian of Norwich features a rule of life, or customary, that spans 50+ pages. So much for simple. In many communities, those entering the order are ceremoniously presented with a copy of the order's Rule which now trumps any rules they've made for themselves.
The word order and the word ordained come from the same Latin root which relates to "arranging" or "putting in order." Some people think ordination implies specialness and heirarchy--and there is some hint of that in the word root which also has to do with "ranking." But more accurately, ordination marks one's entry into an Order of ministry. (In the Episcopal Church ordained ministers include bishops, priests, or deacons; all baptized lay persons are also considered ministers responsible for living out the baptismal covenant.) An ordained person is said to have entered an "ordered life."
Over the next few blog entries, I'll reflect on some of the rules of the diaconate--as revealed in the diaconal ordination vows--and I'll speculate on how they might "order" a life.
As for the kitchen floor, I'm rather favoring the robot.