Friday, April 23, 2010

Spiritual Practices: Ancient and Modern

I have just returned from a clergy conference with a group of women clergy. It is a group of women that I have corresponded with over the past 6 years but I had only met one of them face to face. It was an interesting topic that I felt that I could introduce to my congregation before I retired: Hospitality. But as we continued to go deeper into the subject, I found it was not the basic concept of welcoming new comers, or saying “Howdy”. The topic delved into how we were receptive to God and how we could invite the Holy into our lives and consequently invite others, both beloved ones and enemies into that Holy space where God dwells.

Many of the techniques that the director of the continuing education module taught were practices that I had learned years ago when I entered the convent: Learning to quiet the mind and heart, opening oneself to God, waiting for God’s word to settle upon us, and hearing and seeing in a different dimension. The group of women clergy was from several Protestant denominations but none of them seemed to know much about the ancient catholic meditative practices. Some of them practiced yoga, some, Buddhist meditation. There was there still a reticence among some to embrace a “catholic” discipline. I sometimes wonder if we will ever get past that 500 year old catholic/protestant division that we have used so long to identify ourselves.

The conference was held on cruise ship. There was no “Grand Silence” to break, or separation from the “World.” For that I am grateful. I have never liked the great separation of being “in the world but not of it.” I am definitely IN the world and OF that world and so is the God I worship. There is no isolation from the Creation that God has made even if some of the antics around the pool and on the beach were activities that I would not participate in. They are the people of MY world. They are creations just as holy and sacred as I. And when they stop to allow the HOLY to enter into their lives, they know God’s blessing just as surely as I.

So often I believe I have taught parishioners that the Church is the place where God is. I certainly have found the Holy there, but so many are not finding God there anymore. I wonder often what I did wrong—but then I also think that the World now is not the World I have always known. The world of social media is not one that is especially facile one in which to live. The technology goes so beyond what I know and can appreciate. But at the same time I do not want to be cut off from the young, the movers and shakers, the conversations about the Holy that remind me that what I have done in my life is not for naught.

The hospitality of God, the welcome that God calls me to and sends me out to offer to others demands that I be willing use forms of communication with which I am unfamiliar and will continue to be unfamiliar as I grow older. Old-fashioned sermons may not have the effect that they once had if they are not illustrated and music played in the background. Music may have to change to capture the hearts of those who long to enter the hospitality of God. But what about those who are being left behind? Do we just pat them on the head and pass over them? Do we call them to change as I must change?

The ancient practices of meditative prayer are still the meeting place for God and humanity. The ancient clearing (kenosis) of the heart and mind to make room for a loving Christ is still the place where we all meet. The singing of Matins and Compline still speaks of the Holy. The newness must make room for the ancient just as surely as “new occasions teach new duties.” The holiness of that which spans the universes, that goes beyond the Big Bang, that draws us into awe and leaves us incapable to describe the Presence is what is important whether it be worshipped in Church or art gallery, among thousands or in one’s closet, catholic or protestant, Greek or Jew, male or female or somewhere in between. Ohmmmmmm!

Friday Five: What is there to smile about?

With the end of RevGalBlogPals' third annual Big Event, I am wondering who went and what it was like. There must be a lot of smiling from the Big Event! Hopefully, the rest of us are not frowning either.

So let us know how your past week was for you.

I went!!! I am still tired from the trip but exhillerated too so I need some time to contemplate what all went on. Some new things are going on within me that are very positive but still too amorphous to articulate yet.

1. When were you smiling lately?

I think I smiled almost all week! BE3 was wonderful!

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week?

A lot of BE3 was unexpected—the Caribbean was a lot colder than I thought it would be. I didn’t expect to have motion sickness—I was merely a bit queasy but with drugs all things were good. I was not expecting to like all the women on the event but I did.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)?

Thankfully one of the sistahs had those wrist band thingies.

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate?

Awesome strawberry souflee with warm crème anglais!

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles?

Been reading Dan Browne’s The Lost Symbol. I am glad it is the Mason’s who have gotten lambasted for their symbolism instead of the Church. It is a hoot of a read. My grandfather was a great poohbah in his Masonic group so I was familiar with some of the symbols that Browne uses. I’m also reading Karen Armstrong’s newest, A Case for God. Haven’t really gotten into it yet, but I usually love her stuff. Love my Kindle!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Travelin' and Packin': Friday Five

Songbird is going on the same retreat that J and I are going on. She has packing on her mind:

I'm preparing to pack my bags for the Big Event Three, and as I gather what I need I'm thinking about just that: what do I *need* to take with me? As a person who likes to pack light, I worry that in the end I may underpack and wish I had other things with me. I own the gigantor version of the bag to the right, but my morbid fear of having it go astray and not get to the ship means I'm more likely to try to pack it all in a carry-on bag instead, especially since I have a very tight connection on the way to the cruise. But won't I be sorry if I don't bring ______________?

With that in mind, here are five questions about packing to go on a trip.

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes?

Let my roomie do it! She folds so neatly and compactly. I never get it right!
The problem is that we haven’t really started wearing summer clothes so we have to get those things out. We are also in the process of moving and we have already started packing for that. The house is a disaster of packing and the remnants of book culling.

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes make packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big?

I only take medications and the stuff I will need on the plane in my backpack. Since it will be cold here when we leave, I have to take a jacket, but once I get to the airport, I stuff it in my big bag and then on the return I pull it out when I get to baggage claim. I always wear a suit jacket with extra pockets for such things as passport, tickets, etc. I have not carried a purse for 30 years so everything goes in the backpack. Let the xray do the rest!
I have had to give up a water bottle or two in the past few years.

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home?

My Kindle, my Birks and my laptop.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels?

Yes. Not as pretty as yours, Songbird, but serviceable

5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)?

I always carry one book for fun, a novel of some kind and one book that is professional in nature. Usually I have some spiritual reading too. Now that I have the Kindle, I can have it all in one unit. Makes packing so much easier. At the moment I am reading The Lost Sign by Dan Browne and A Case for God by Karen Armstrong. I think I will use the Psalter for spiritual reading.
Ooooooh, I can hardly wait!