Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jesus visits our church

It is as if Christ wandered into our church on Sunday in company with some curious street people, wondering what all the fuss was about. "Is that ME they are going on about?" he wonders. He looks around and sees the people ill equipped to ascend the smoke-shrouded slopes of Mt. Siniai, what with the earth's crust shaking and cracking under their feet, and the wild Law-Giver spitting out commandments like moulton pebbles from an outraged volcano. "They will never manage this without some serious help," Jesus observes, "for one thing, they didn't bring the right kind of shoes."

And so he volunteers as a tour-guide, a Sherpa, an expert on volcanos who will take them to the fiery rim where they might safely peer over and view the face of God.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

From this morning's liturgy at Christ Church Cranbrook:

Thou shalt know him when he comes,
Not by any din of drums,
Nor by his manners, nor his airs,
Nor by anything he wears.
Thou shalt know him when he comes,
Not by his crown or by his gown.
But his coming known shall be
By the holy harmony
Which his coming makes
In thee.

Mark Sirett.      

    This anthem, sung by CCC choir this morning, supports my discomfort with triumphalist imagery of the Second Coming found in Advent hymns and scriptures. It needs a corrective itself, however, in that , for me, "his coming known shall be" is just as often by some jarring, disruptive interruption of oppressive but familiar routine as it by "holy harmony". So I guess I am more orthodox than I had thought.
Nothing jarring or disharmonious about this morning's choral music, however. Beyond superlatives.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Curious quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing

"...the behavior of those misled into false contemplation appears strange...Sometimes their eyes are set deeply inside their heads, making them look like sheep with a brain disease...sometimes they tilt their heads to one side, as though they were trying to get a worm out of their ear. Some squeak instead of speaking normally, emulating shortness of breath...I expect they will go on loving God in this odd way until they go out of their minds, unless God mercifully instructs them to stop."

".some misled people do strange things with their bodies. When they listen, they waggled their heads. Their mouths gape open as though their ears were inside.Others...make rowing motions with their arms as though they were swimming instead of talking...they remind me of off-balance amateur jugglers."

"Those who are experienced in the practice of divine contemplation become both better looking and better companions. "

"[Do not behave] the manner of heretics who behave like crazy people! throwing their cups against the wall and breaking them as soon as they have had a drink."

"[God's] revelation to St. Stephen [in The Book of the Acts of the Apostles] does not instruct us to look up toward heaven physically when we do our spiritual work, in order to see [Christ] standing! sitting! or lying down there. We do not understand the nature of Christ's resurrected body and should not imagine him taking various positions."

"Do not try to move upward as though you want to climb over the moon. This is not the way to pray."

"...You ask, 'Then where am I to be? Nowhere?' Yes! You've got it! Nowhere bodily is everywhere spiritually. Make your spiritual exercise nowhere...Only our outward nature calls it 'nothing.' Our inner nature calls it 'All.'

From THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, anonymous 14th century English author
Contemporary English version by Bernard Bangley, Paraclete Press
"Like this writer, i do" says Abba

Friday, December 6, 2013

Caitlin Is Running (1995)

Caitlin is Running.
(A track meet, not soccer)
A relay, to be precise.
Her faced is transfixed, aimed at the tiny teammate up ahead.
Caitlin runs first, and holds her own.
The others hold to the pace.
The last runner takes a narrow lead.
We win.

I remember Caitlin running.