The bottom line on the upper room is disciples waiting together to see what God will do. Between the Ascension and Pentecost, they waited in prayer and unity for the promise of the Father. I'm usually so exhausted after running the gauntlet of Holy Week and Easter, that the thought of doing anything churchy at that point is fairly repugnant. However, in this particular mid-March moment, having a prayer time at The Word Shop between Easter and Pentecost sounds like a fine idea. I'm thinking 9 -10 on Wednesday mornings, beginning April 3. Would anyone care to wait with me?
Leaving a church can feel like a divorce; a heart rending rip that remains sensitive years later; scar tissue toughness masking an inner vulnerability.
The old community divides into 'his' friends and 'her' friends; a few brave souls spanning the gap; grocery store encounters full of cheery chatter that rings tinnily over the echoes of things not said.
And through it all the nagging fear that the children suffer the most; basic certitude's shattered; years passing too quickly by--too many moments bereft of the particular graces of community.
The worst part of our 7 week prayer/study with Foster's STREAMS OF LIVING WATERS was sitting in my chair with my afternoon cup of coffee, utterly entranced with some turn of the pages and wishing that you were sharing this wonder with me.
June slipped away. July slipped away. I figured I better grab August by the neck before the whole concept of a monthly newsletter slips away. Fortunately, people have been writing me about books:
Katy (age 13) writes that she recommends A WALK TO REMEMBER by Nicholas Sparks. And she adds, "if any one thinks, 'Oh I have seen the movie I don't need to read the book,' you are wrong. The book is totally different."
Reminds me of a bumpersticker: "Don't judge a book by it's movie."
Since any given three people can rarely even agree on what happened last week, I tend to view books of history with deep cynicism. However, "Why I am a Catholic" by Garry Wills, is an interesting romp through two thousand years of Popes, Emperors, Kings, Bishops and the various councils of the church. A mess of political intrigue, power mongering, lies and repression...one wonders how the church managed to survive at all. Also author of "Papal Sins," Garry Wills's democratic streak runs throughout. In the end he affirms the basic tenets of the Apostles Creed--the faith of the Church.
Sometimes the prayers of the people bump to a halt at the moment of offering thanks. It feels like running on stairs and expecting one more step: a moment's stumbling pause as we adjust to the flatland.
Perhaps the gasp of silence comes because our forward momentum is so driven by making things better, by keeping a constant eye on what needs improvement, what is lacking. To reorient towards what we already have is a major shift in perspective.
The people who receive this newsletter are an odd mix: Family and friends who have known me for ages, folk from church and family camp, customers and people who have taken classes at The Word Shop, people I've connected with through the "In the Spirit" column, Toastmasters, staff and those who contacted me via our website.
The buying of books is an odd thing. I sauntered down Pacific Ave. one afternoon, stomach nicely filled with blackened salmon Caesar salad from a rare lunch out with my husband. The idea was to burn off one or two of the several hundred calories I'd just consumed.
The thief comes to mind. The one crucified next to Jesus who said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." It's an essentially selfish prayer; a prayer by someone still looking out for number one. Not exactly a great moment of faith. What other options did he have? End of the line. Throw your dice here. What have you got to lose?
So also I, in the midst of trials great and small, look to the Lord for the kingdom yet to come. "Remember me," I say, "when the tides turn."
On Palm Sunday we move with breathless speed from shouting "Hosanna" and waving triumphant branches to yelling "crucify him" through contorted lips. It is a reminder of the fickle nature of public opinion; that yesterday's hero can become tomorrow's victim, that we change our minds with the ruthless ease that comes of long practice.
It was a tough two days. I tried to navigate around the hot, inner point of fury; lest it boil over and scald those I most love. I actually remembered to pray once or twice, and aimed for the images that floated in unbidden. Not that I wanted to go there. Not that I was able to make a blind leap of faith or muster up some form of heroic obedience.