Personal

Personal reflections, comments about things I've been doing, etc.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, Lion and Lamb

Another month starts; March. Does it come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, or is it the other way around? Does the old saying talk about weather, or something more? The current forecast is for a noreaster coming up the coast tomorrow.

I love a good storm. There is something beautiful, awesome, and yet terrifying about a storm. As long as we can watch the storm from safety, it can be great, but if we, or others are in danger, it can be a great concern.

Perhaps some of the same applies to our inner storms. May we all weather our inner storms during Lent as we examine ourselves and seek righteousness and justice as we prepare for the Lamb on Easter day at the beginning of April.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. The Feast of St. Brigid.

O God, by whose grace your servant Brigid, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, we celebrate the Feast of St. Brigid today and Candlemas, Groundhog’s Day, and my sister’s birthday tomorrow. Today is also the first of the month, so I start off with the monthly childhood wish for good luck, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”.

One old Celtic legend is that St. Brigid was the midwife to Mary when Jesus was born. Exactly how she went from Ireland to Israel is not usually explained in the legend. She is also known as the Patron Saint of Poets so perhaps we should think of her midwifery to Mary as metaphor.

It is a useful metaphor to think about. Who are you helping give birth to something and what are they giving birth to? Who is helping you in a similar manner and what are you giving birth to?

Recently, I got in to a discussion related to this and the idea of spiritual direction. It seems that for many of us, our discernment paths may feel more like we are in long painful labor with midwives assisting us than simply being told what we are supposed to do by a director.

I’m sure that people can spend a lot of time picking apart these metaphors, if that is what they choose, yet the questions remains, what are you giving birth to? Who is assisting you through this process? What are others around you giving birth to? How are you assisting them?

Happy St. Brigid’s Day.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, New Years 2018 and the Perpetual New Year

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit. Happy New Year. A new month begins. A new year begins. I’ve often written blog posts starting with Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit remember a childhood idea that doing this would bring good luck for the year. I’ve often celebrated the new year with champagne toasts, herring, lentils, or other things thought to bring wealth and good luck for the coming year.

Last night, my wife and I went to dinner at a neighbor’s house. After dinner, we came home, and I went to bed not much later than usual, and I awoke this morning, not much later than usual. I’ve been thinking a lot about the social construct of time. Last night was New Year’s Eve in the Western Roman calendar, coming on the last day of the final month, the tenth month, December, not counting the months added for the Emperors, Julius and Augustus , and before the first month, January, named for the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions.

It was not New Year’s Eve in other calendars, like the Hebrew calendar, the Persian calendar, or various Asian lunar calendars. In reality, any moment, every moment, can be viewed as the beginning of a new year.

Yet even this is based on the idea of time as dimension that we move sequentially through, that what is past is past and what is yet to come, is yet to come. It is as if we are walking along a path and think of what has disappeared beneath the horizon behind us has ceased to exist and what is coming up on the path ahead of us doesn’t exist until we see it.

In the Christian Gospel of John, we find some interesting thoughts about Jesus and time. “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’” Does something special happen to us when we celebrate the Eucharist or when we pray? Do you become part of an event that goes beyond time and location, joining a heavenly crowd? If we pray without ceasing, as 1 Thessalonians 5:16 calls us to, are we ceaselessly participating in something beyond space and time?

Where does this leave us when it comes to New Year’s resolutions? Is every moment a moment of new resolutions? What can we resolve for the new year, for the new us, moment after moment? I’ve always like the resolution, “to live each moment more fully and more lovingly than the previous”. I’ve often failed at this, but it remains a great goal.

Where does this leave us as we try to discover, as we try to live into, the future that already is, into God’s loving dream for all of us?

1 John 3:2 comes to mind:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Yet this raises an interesting question. If we are all going to be like God, to a certain level, especially if we apply some elementary math like the commutative and associative properties, then we are going to be like one another. In what ways am I going to be like the homeless man fighting addictions and other mental health issues? In what ways am I going to be like one of the first lesbian priests ordained, or a professor of black liberation theology? In what ways am I going to be like a conservative voter?

How does exploring this change who I am? How does it relate to living each moment more fully and more lovingly than the previous?

I guess these are aspects of my resolution for this coming year. I’m starting off by reading “A Priest Forever” by Carter Heyward. I hope to read a bit of “Martin & Malcolm & America: A dream or a Nightmare” by James Cone. Perhaps I can add in some writings from indigenous people here in America and around the world as well copies of various street newspapers.

How do we take this further in changing our daily media diet? What ideas, resolutions, or resources do you have?

Deconstructing the Established White Christmas: Homelessness, Immigration, and Pain

“I need help,” the old man said. He had come to the Homeless Memorial Service and was looking for food, shelter, and comfort. It had been a long day and I suspect all of us wanted to get home to dinner. He had been saying the same thing for probably half an hour as we tried to get him to head up to the soup kitchen for dinner and then return to the warming station at the church afterwards. After telling his story several times and describing the extent of his few belongings we finally got him on his feet and heading towards the door. He had a 2018 calendar because he was hopeful for 2018.

The day before, I had been to a Blue Christmas service at another church. I prayed for my friends and family members who have lived on the streets. A couple have their own apartments now. Another is in jail after getting into a fight.

I prayed for my friends and family who have been fighting illness. Some have fought cancer this year and are doing well. Others are still in the middle of that fight. Some have died. I prayed for those who have pain yet to be diagnosed. Some are at home. Others are in hospitals or rehabilitation centers.

I prayed for those who have been separated from their families this year. Those U.S. citizens who have seen their hard working tax paying parents deported under new administration policies. Those U.S. citizens who have seen their parents take sanctuary in local churches to avoid deportation.

A vigil outside of one church particularly stuck in my memory. The church was a Spanish speaking Pentecostalist church in a rough part of town. Years ago, when that part of town was where the wealthy lived, it had been a beautiful mainline Protestant church. Some of the stained glass windows survive. Others are now covered with plywood.

On Facebook, a friend with OCD posted about his torments, questioning whether the Episcopal church was Christian enough. Many criticised his post while others offered prayers or tried to help people understand what OCD is really like.

I have just finished my first semester of seminary and I am missing my classmates and my readings. I’ve been thinking a lot about post establishment Christianity and if we can learn anything from post colonial theory. I’ve struggled with how theory and praxis intersect and I think there is something in these experiences to be explored.

Last night, I listened to an An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. I think about the “subalterns”, those suffering outside the existing power structures. Mostly, I exist fairly comfortably within the power structures, although there are places where I struggle or have been rejected by the power structures.

This evening, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The established churches will sing beautiful carols. Some will have incense. I will be there, thinking not only of God becoming human and living with us, but of God becoming a subaltern. Fleeing to Egypt from the power structures, coming back from Egypt leading to a conflict with the power structures that resulted in crucifixion.

If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, walk with the homeless man saying, “I need help”. It is a modern vernacular translation of “Lord have mercy”. Pray with those struggling with pain and illness. Confront the political and ecclesiastical power structures. Most importantly, keep your eyes open for where the subaltern Christ has been born around you. O come, let us adore him.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit - December

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. November went by without me writing a novel, or for that matter, much for the blog. I did write a lot for my classes and put some of those writings on my blog. This month, I have a few weeks of classes left and a couple big assignments to wrap up for them. One of the papers will also feed into my larger journey and I’ll hope to prepare my next ember letter. There are various holiday parties I should attend. When these things get wrapped up, I hope to belatedly start some advent reflections. It feels like I’m managing to all keep things together, barely. All will be well.

Syndicate content