Friday, July 22, 2011

Allow for Now

According to the text of Matthew, when Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized, John reluctantly replied, "I need to be baptized by you..."  However, Jesus simply stated,  "Allow it for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."  
I think of this passage every time I see the sister sitting quietly in the congregation.  I would not even know she is a nun, except the executive director happened to mention it.  The sister now resides in a home dedicated to the care of those with dementia.  She has yet to speak to me, but she will join me for the Lord's prayer, and she smiles when she accepts communion.  Sometimes she even shakily takes my hand.   It is all I can do to not kneel and ask for a blessing from her, although I think she has already given it.  The director,new to this home, says that she does not know how the nun came to live at this particular community, but often the staff is very reluctant to give details of people's lives.   So, I make allowances for the now that we find ourselves in.  I am reminded that we are not simply a laundry cycle of remembering and forgetting - that we journey in and to God. There is more.         
I discovered the following prayer in an intriguing  book entitled, Leading from within, Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead.  This poem has some formatting that is impossible for me to duplicate in email.  My apologies, and my gratitude, to the author, Winston O. Abbott, and to all of you.  With you, I find fulfillment in this strange time of now.  
Let me remember 
Let me remember 
beyond forgetting -
let me remember -
let me remember always 
for my spirit is often shrouded in the mists -
let me remember beyond forgetting
that my life is not a solitary thing - 
it is a bit of the rushing tide 
a leaf of the bending tree - 
a kernel of grain in the golden wheat fields -
a whisper of wind about the mountaintop - 
a reflection of sunlight upon the 
shining waters - 
it is fleeting - 
it is of the moment 
it is timeless - 
it is of eternity.        

Saturday, July 16, 2011


n a few hours I will be officiating at a wedding of a lovely, young couple.  I have enjoyed getting to know them.   They have each written their vows, and I am the only one who has read both.  I am encouraged to see how similar the wording is.  I pray this really is a sign that their hearts are echoing one another.    
Today, many pictures will be taken, and I cannot help but see these pictures on a distant wall sixty or seventy years from now.  I lean closer, and wait. I sense a beautiful ancient story coming round once more.  
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you,
Not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They have been in each other all along. 
-  from Rumi, The Book of Love, translation by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our Church

Until fairly recently, I never heard Pamela say a word.  Generally, she comes soundlessly into worship, accepts Communion, and then quietly leaves.   She always has make-up on, albeit slightly askew.  Her overall look is slightly unorthodox and a bit disconcerting, but does hint of a woman who enjoys dressing.    
Two months ago, she came into worship just a few minutes late.  This is not unusual for her.  However, instead of finding an empty seat as she usually does, she walked up to me and asked, "Will you be serving Communion soon?" 
Surprised, and in mid-hymn, I responded, 'Yes, in just a few minutes.'
'Good. I want to get out of here as soon as possible.  I miss my lover.'  I was completely taken aback, and could only mutter rather ineptly, "Why, yes, I am sure you do."  
After worship today, there was an empty seat beside her, so I sat next to her for a few minutes while the pianist continued to play.  We compared bracelets - mine a single plain silver bangle, while her four bracelets were made up of colorful beads.  She also had on a very nice pair of leather shoes.   I said, "Pamela, I do believe you enjoy clothes."   
We both giggled.  She replied, 'Oh yes, we must do the best we can.' 
Rae also lives in this community.  Today she said, "I love this church.  By the way, is this your church or my church?" 
I had to smile.  'Perhaps we should simply call this our church.'
'Good idea.  By the way, I love your long hair.'
My hair is actually short while hers reaches below her shoulders.  'Thank you, but you are the one with the beautiful long hair.'
She laughed heartily and said, 'Oh, yea.'   
I do love this church.  Even if I am a bit underdressed, we are all indeed doing the best that we can.     

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blessed Be the 5th of July

For those of us in urban environments, July begins with a bang, whether we want that or not.  Teachings and teachers show up in surprising guises, and often what we think we are seeking is indeed beside the point.  The image of the hookless fishing line makes me think of Jesus and the disciples who first had to set aside their nets before their journeys could continue.      
May you hear your teacher's call to peace today.   
My thanks to the World Community of Christian Meditation for bringing us this poem.  

“Finding a Teacher,” W. S. Merwin, MIGRATION: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005), pp. 206-207
In the woods I came on an old friend fishing
and I asked him a question
and he said Wait
fish were rising in the deep stream
but his line was not stirring
but I waited
it was a question about the sun
about my two eyes
my ears my mouth
my heart the earth with its four seasons
my feet where I was standing
where I was going
it slipped through my hands
as though it were water
into the river
it flowed under the trees
it sank under hills far away
and was gone without me
then where I stood night fell
I no longer knew what to ask
I could tell that his line had no hook
I understood that I was to stay and eat with him.