Good Friday Open Heart Surgery

It is Thursday night and I cannot sleep. This coming afternoon, I will go on retreat with the bishops and members of the Commission on Ministry and others, like myself, who are seeking discernment in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. I have lit a candle and am listening to music from Taize.

Stay with me.
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray.

What was it like in the garden ages ago? What was going through Jesus’ mind? What if something goes wrong? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I can’t take the pain?

What is it like for me, as I prepare for the retreat? What if they say, “No, we don’t think you should pursue ordination”? Will they be speaking God’s truth to me? Will I be able to hear it? What if they talk about my brokenness, about the places I have not yet died to self, will God give me the strength to die with Christ that I might also live with Christ, that I might become more Christ like?

When you get down to it, perhaps that is the more frightening part, facing those places where I need to change, to be changed. What will the journey be like? Is this Friday and Saturday the Good Friday and Holy Saturday of this phase of my life?

To a certain extent, it does feel like Holy Week. The triumphant entry into Norwich for Poetry Sunday, and then things start getting hard, hearing that my ex-brother-in-law Paul has died, going to the funeral of my Uncle-in-law. Making it through the week, trying to fit two or three weeks’ worth of work into a few days.

Today, I learned that Eric died. Eric was the son of a woman I go to Thursday noontime Eucharist with. We have been praying for him for a long time. Later, I spoke with my friend Robert. Robert often hangs out on the street in front of my office. He has had a rough time, drinking, fighting, getting into trouble with the law, a lost sheep of the Lord. He loves God. He knows that God loves him. Yet life is still incredibly hard for him. He is supposed to have open heart surgery next week.

Come, Father of the poor, come,
generous Spirit, come, light of our hearts.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Is this weekend my spiritual open heart surgery? When those valves that aren’t working as well as they could be get repaired, when the stony parts of my heart get replaced with a heart of love? How painful will it be? How long will I be laid up? What will happen to my relationships, with my family, with my friends, with my co-workers?

How does this relate to the larger picture, after another day of record breaking heat, after another evening of vitriolic political discourse? Robert and I are not the only ones with different types of heart problems, as Rev. Barber says, ”America has a heart problem”. What am I called to in this area?

Have I written enough? Will I be able to sleep now? Will you pray for me and for the others that will be on retreat this weekend? Will you pray for Joe, Paul, Eric, and their families? Will you pray for myself and for Robert? Will you pray for our country and the upcoming election? Will you pray for our world, that we might use its resources wisely?

Stay with me.
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray.

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