Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Annie Dillard, April 30, 1945

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard, April 30, 1945. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, published in 1974.

Frayed and nibbled as we are, may we this week bring our longing hearts to prayer. Only there will they find what we need to survive in this fallen world—that food which will truly sustain against that which is eating at our souls. In hearts at prayer is the only nourishment which will allow us to travel beyond the clean and shining beauty in which all seems to fit, perhaps, too well. There joining on a journey to an awesome place. Free passage, tending a splintered wreck, place of safest passage for us and our gnawed and bloodied, scarred and delicate companions whose beauty, daily, brings us to our knees. Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tomorrow the Bard

This year’s celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, on April 23, (recall that the actual identity of the Bard is a topic of hot dispute among scholars) has an added dimension as it is also the 400th anniversary of the publication of his wonderful Sonnets.

“Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”

May our hearts come to prayer this week seeking love from the Source beyond all time and frail human notions of love’s depth and breadth and power. May we come, seeking to love, thus, all who would come our way, even though they dwell on the edge of doom. Amen.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Hope

Grace and peace on this Easter afternoon:

I don't know why I mourned so deeply, not only my three Dear Little Ones today, but also my parents -- gone so long -- and so very much of myself which was lost with them all. Somewhere deep within, Jesus still seems deeply in the grave, despite the “Halleluiahs!” and shouts of “Christ is risen!” which surround.

So many years on grief's journey now, I doubt that anyone noticed when I attended Church or when I proclaimed the Resurrection in the worship service I led for our psychiatric inpatients, (it was a wonderful service), how very sad I am, how deeply my heart grieves, and how badly I need the victory over suffering and death to be made real in my own life. All I can do, in Resurrection hope, is bring my suffering and grief, sorrow and pain and loss to Jesus—dead and buried in the grave and pray for strength and willingness to linger there with him in whatever hope, he dying, found to give himself over to the only One who could have saved him but allowed him to die. Somehow from this horror, hope was born and new life and love were made real in the lives of women and men so long ago. How I yearn for the Resurrection to be made real in my life.

Looking for words of hope and encouragement, I came to a favorite blog writer of mine, the Velveteen Rabbi, and found a link to the lovely and hopeful collection of poems on miscarriage, Through. Longing for some Word of God’s victory in my heart on this day, I found it here in the tradition of Judaism: The download is free. If you find it of value in your griefs journey, I commend it to you.

Wishing all gentle days.

Remembering the First Easter

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”
Mark 16:6-7

Harvard lecturer and Presbyterian minister, Fredrick Buechner writes: “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

“For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way.

“If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.”

The Luke’s tradition says that good thief, asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom. I am so powerfully drawn to his prayer. “Jesus remember me….” I’m suffering here for all my wrong doing and grief, sorrow and pain. Carry me with you when you travel to your Father; our Father. Don’t forget who I am when you get there.

I like to think that this is the Resurrection, Jesus did not forget the good thief—Jesus remembered him. And he remembered the women of great faith who never failed him. And Peter and James and John and all the rest of his disciples too, myself included, who failed him miserably. Jesus remembers all, no matter what we’ve done, no matter how horribly we fail him, not a one of us is ever entirely lost. No matter how hard we try, we can never completely disappear, especially when we are most absent from ourselves. Jesus remembers us and his kingdom, the Resurrection is not some future event to await patiently in our misery, but is alive in him here and now. Today.

On Easter we celebrate this mysterious and eternal truth for our living. We remember Jesus and his disciples and those world-altering days so very long ago. How somehow their memories of him left his mark on who they were. And how somehow he remembered each of them as his kingdom came, enabling them to see his face, hear his voice and know him deep within their hearts. He came, not as a ghost to them, but as someone who truly existed, offering consolation in their deep, deep sadness and disappointment. He appeared to them, real, even though death and the grave and despair and time stood between them.

So as we come this month to tell again the stories of Easter, remembering Jesus who remembers us; Jesus whose kingdom is come—with us on earth as it is in heaven. In this he returns to us across the centuries and miles. We meet him again and we know him. We see his face. Hear his voice. And know him speaking to our hearts. “Jesus remember me…” we pray. He remembers. Not a one of us is ever lost. Amen.