For some time now I have subscribed to a daily meditation from the great Roman Catholic theologian, Richard Rohr. I must admit, however, that I seldom take the time to actually open and read the daily meditation. That is my loss.
Something woke me up around 2 am Wednesday morning. I was not immediately able to fall back asleep. So, I did the one thing they always tell you not to do…I opened my Email.
Lo and behold, this meditation had just arrived in my inbox. It was uncanny how it fit so well into the thought pattern I had just been experiencing. I want to share some excerpts from it with you.
Today’s meditation was taken from a friend of Richard Rohr, Dr. Barbara Holmes. Her imagery is both beautifully poetic and spiritually engaging.
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It is time to awaken to self, society, and the cosmos; for none of us has the luxury of sleepwalking through impending cultural and scientific revolutions. In the last sermon he preached before he was assassinated, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged us to “remain awake through a great revolution.”
Up above our heads, there are worlds unknown and a canopy of grace, light, air, and water that supports our survival. Without realizing it, we expend massive amounts of energy to block out the vastness of our universe. This is to be expected, for, in its totality, this information can be more than human systems can take. However, by riveting our attention on the mundane, we filter out the wonder that is available with each breathe. Although we have a fascination with space and the possibility of life in other realms, we steadfastly refuse to respond when the universe invites us to broaden our lines of site. we are beckoned by blazing sunsets and the pictures returned by powerful telescopic lenses; yet, on any given day, we court a busyness that beguiles us into focusing on the limited perspectives in our immediate space.
Today, scientific information about the universe is increasing exponentially while ethnic and racial balances within the United States is shifting radically. In the scientific realm, the epistemological foundations for hierarchy, dominance, and rationality are crumbling; while proponents of gender, class,(racial,) and sexual equity have found their public voices…
We are not hamsters on a wheel, waiting to fall into the cedar shavings at the bottom of the cage. We are seekers of light and life, bearers of shadows and burdens. We are struggling to journey together toward moral fulfillment. We are learning to embrace the unfathomable darkness where God dwells with enthusiasm that equals our love of light. Physics and cosmology have metaphors and languages to help us awaken to these and other possibilities…We are not just citizens of one nation or another, but rather of the human and cosmic community.
Awareness is the moment when we rise with eyes crusted from self-induced dreams of control, domination, victimization, and self-hatred to catch a glimpse of the divine in the face of “the other.” Then God’s self-identification, “I am that I am/I will be who I will be” (Exodus 3:14) becomes a liberating example of awareness, mutuality, and self-revelation.
Barbara teaches us that ;everything belongs” – from moments of personal awakening, to mind-bending discoveries with the potential to change everything. Growing in awareness of a “Christ-soaked universe” helps us to awaken to wonder and see the divine in all things.”
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It amazed me how Dr. Holmes words helped me go in a new direction with some of the thoughts I had been wrestling with regarding this time of transition for all of us at SJP. Times of transition like we are in now are always times to rethink the structure, systems, and expectations for any community of faith. The current COViD pandemic only heightens that, as right now even more stable and established ministries are having to ask these same questions of themselves.
Even at some time in the future when a safe and effective vaccine is readily available to people worldwide that it once again becomes safe to engage others without masks and social distancing…things are not ever going to be exactly as they were before March, 2020. And we have no way of discerning exactly what our ‘new normal’ is going to look like…in many areas of life…but especially for our communities of faith. Experts are warning us that those communities that do not use this current time to articulate ‘the basics’ of their life together in a way that helps them become more flexible and resilient are likely to be the communities that do not last much beyond the current crisis. I personally believe they are spot on…the church has been trying its best to ignore these signs long before COViD-19, but COViD is forcing us, at long last, to do the work we have been needing to do. Thankfully, as Episcopalians/Anglicans, we are part of a worldwide body, a worldwide ‘communion,’ that is being knit together ever more strongly by the current crisis and will likely have the ability to discern ‘best practices’ from each other in our own communion.
I have to admit, that even at age 70, I am incredibly excited about what this means for the future of the church…and even more excited that God has put me here with you, the saints…the faithful…of St. John’s, Plymouth to experience this total change of ‘matrix,’ this ‘paradigm shift.’ I have been hopeful about every congregation I have helped through a time of transition…but never to the degree that I have felt since I first sat on the bench under the big maple tree in your backyard last year when I first set foot on your grounds last July 4th.
I am constantly amazed that at this point in life God has rewarded me by allowing me to be your Transition Minister at this most unique and unusual time in the history of the church. I am anxious to see just where it is that God is going to lead us…together…as a community of faith that I believe is going to help change the world around it. The architect who designed your building with its ‘Praying Hands’ roof was a visionary…and that vision of a community of faith at prayer is what is going to keep us strong and on track with the will of our loving and gracious God.
As to the future…’Bring it on!’ St. John’s Plymouth is ready to face it with courage…and faith…and resilience.