Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent: the waiting nearby under the reef

Today I received an RSS feed for Choralgirl's Music Under the Reef, a fine blog I have mentioned before. By her blog name, music is a huge part of her life. She is a fine writer and today what she wrote as we enter into Advent inspired me to write a few stanzas. Here is part of what she said:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dark is the night

During my first semester of seminary a painting hung in the chapel, behind the altar. The painting was entitled "Incarnation," and it took a pretty good swipe at my theology on that topic. I wish I could post an image here, but I'll try to describe it.

First, it was about eight feet tall by three wide. The bottom third was mostly black, with some gravel embedded in the paint. The top section was varying shades of deep blue. From the top center down to the horizon, there was an straight-but-uneven, energetic swath of yellow and white varying from 4-8 inches wide, streaming directly and forcefully downward into the black earth, where it became an orange glow.

In other words, a field of deep darkness, through which came a stroke of glory so powerful that it turned the very earth to embers where it struck.

Sweet-smelling straw, gentle animals and smiling humans...not present. Just radiance and power.

It got me thinking. About the meeting of heaven and earth. About the story that I knew by heart, with the sentiment removed. About the starkness of the contrast between light and dark, despair and hope.

I couldn't form words around it for quite a while--not until I'd experienced some despair firsthand. A couple of years later, my personal ground was laid; I was at the lowest point of my life, and trying to re-energize myself at the St Olaf Conference on Worship, Theology and the Arts....

Please read the rest of her inspiring post here.

Needless to say the remainder of what she says in her post is the nucleus of what she inspired me to write. All you need for an engine to run is a source of ignition. Well I was ignited, and here is the result. Thank you Choralgirl.

Transcendent, my awe, turning

Turning toward the lightening east

From whence shall the True Light come

Brightening the dark of the soul.

There, in the corner of the sky

Where twilight seeks dawn

A glowing corona will emerge

Arising from the edge of the earth.

Brilliance awakes the sleeping

Those wakened, await the One

Who comes in glory

As He begins His journey here.

Turn me, turn me to the light immortal

Hurdling to life eternal,

Forge me anew in the fire

In the eyes of He who comes,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

View from the horizon

Seasons clock the passage of time within the year and this present moment is no different. We are on the edge of a national feast day for some, a day of mourning for the First Nation people. And no, I am not being negative about Thanksgiving. It is a great day for those of us who were born in the generations that followed that first celebration for the Anglos who were seeking a new freedom, one they achieved at the sacrifice of others who welcomed these strangers and taught them how to survive, only to be betrayed by them later on. But I digress, and this is a topic for another day, another time.

There is much to be thankful for as Americans born here or those who are newly come to escape persecution or oppression of one kind or another. Really it all boils down to escaping extreme evil for the lesser types that one can find some negotiated truce with here in our land of plenty. What we chose to do with the lesser evils and the plenties that are not always beneficial, that is between us and "them" respectively. As a Christian--I like to think I am trying to be one of the real Christians who strive to be Christlike, and not Pauline, or fundamentalist, or legalistic, or completely delusional--it is my goal to be like Jesus, and care for my neighbor and to love God in all of His/Her aspects. Truly those of us who strive for this fall and fail each day, but the fact remains that we have our eyes on the end of the race, so we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. Forward...that is the concept some find so hard to grasp. Loving all, without discrimination or prejudice as we await the coming of the kingdom. And I do not agree with those who would hasten its coming by encouraging hatred and unrepentant hearts. I believe in letting God follow His/Her own schedule. Besides who am I to tell God when to come and finish the work set out to be done? I trust my courteous Lord to know His business and by so doing I am like the child He asks us to all be in this life, trusting in His care and love, the grace and mercy that He shows us, unending.

And so tomorrow will come and we will feast, either in a home of our own, or one not of our making. For the homeless and loveless, there will be a place at a table and a bed in a local shelter, or under a bridge where some will manage to have foraged enough to have a dinner of thanks with others who share their fate at this time and place, and blankets enough--perhaps--given freely by those who work to ring bells and collect loose change--to buy the blankets to give to the cold and home-wanting among us.

But its not just food and warmth and a place to lay our head that we will give thanks for;
I will think of the beauty that surrounds us each day and more often than not goes unnoticed. The winter song bird, the soft brown rabbit, the
evergreen leaves of the laurel, a still flowering geranium or hollyhock, the vaulted ceiling of branches adorned with lovely leaves, moss growing green among the cobbled stones of walks leading here and there.

I will be thankful for my job, the home I own because my mother gave it to me before she died, the dog that accompanied me through dark times and now plays in heaven with his precedents from my earlier life. My friends scattered throughout the country and overseas, my parish family, my priestly friends, my neighbors where I live, the woman at the grocery store who checks my purchases and always wishes me a good day and remembers my name, the books I get to read, the music I am privileged to hear, the hymns I get to sing, the warm clothes I wear, the sturdy shoes on my tender much, too much to name...all things and civil rights I enjoy and wish others had too, everywhere.

I give thanks for the grumpy and often rude patients I deal with. Grumpy old men and women, veterans, who have seen misery a hundredfold, and yet I care for them, knowing they are from my parents' generation, that Greatest Generation, who sewed up not only America's freedom but that of the world. I am thankful for women like Rose Volland in Nazi occupied France. What a story she could tell, and did eventually tell in her careful catalogs of art stolen by her Nazi occupiers in Paris.

I am thankful for the occasional cranky coworkers who have their own burdens to bear, and how I manage to turn their cloudy moods with a smile and kind word. I am not boasting, but simply showing what a tiny act of kindness can do to change a person in this world. Nowadays my patients, for the most part, say please and thank you, and refrain from foul language when calling my office. Some of them actually laugh now and wish me a happy day. Or call and tell me tasteful jokes, just to connect with another person in their lonely, isolated lives. Connecting with someone who makes time for them. It means the world to them and is a lifeline to the living.

In a few days, we will be on the eve of Advent, that anticipatory time before the coming of the Savior Christ, that Jesus boy, endearing child, aggravating teenager, then soon transformed mortal to Son of God, Emmanuel with a few days time. At 5pm today, I will go and give thanks corporately with my church family at our Thanksgiving Eve service...a very good way to begin the feast of thanks.

So much to be thankful for, and I am very thankful for all you.

Let us look to the horizon and coming Light...


Friday, November 14, 2008

Page 56, if you please

I have been tagged for a literary meme of sorts. The meme was this:


* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions on your blog (or facebook wall).
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Ok, I did and here it is, oh, and I will post it on Facebook for those who are in my cadre:

"Really, Thackeray, you simply must learn to accept what you cannot change."

Now find your 5th sentence on page 56 of a book of yours and post it to the comments so others may share in your discovery!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pray. Pray without ceasing.

No inspiration. No revelation of deep spiritual import. It's just not there. I feel dead in the water, once again without a rudder or sail, no oars, no compass. And it doesn't help that the water is placid and unmoving. This time is a not a good place to be. I have a life preserver: Jesus. And though seemingly silent, He's there. This I know.

I'm glad we have a new progressive President-Elect and a Can-Do Vice President-Elect. I am relieved beyond measure at the outcome of the senate races too. I am not content with the anti-civil rights movement which keeps people who love each other from marrying. We are getting closer though, and it won't be long before this insane bigotry is ended. Pray for open minds and open hearts. Pray.

Pray for the Diocese of Oregon as it begins convention tomorrow in Salem, Oregon. Pray for our soon to be new President and his administration; pray for his safety and that of his family. Pray for dogs rescued from puppy mills, that their lives of horror will end on a loving note in a forever home. Pray for homeless children on the streets of our nation, for the elderly homeless without a place to live out their days in peace and safety. Pray for unity of all Americans. Pray. Pray without ceasing.