I am going on vacation...

One of the blessings of being a clergy person in my tradition (United Church of Christ) it that while we don't get paid lots, there is the understanding that we need time off for renewal and reflection. So, I am off for two wonderful weeks of quiet gardening, reading, prayer, art museums and a few music gatherings. It is GLORIOUS in the Berkshires right now - under 70 degrees but sunny - and it looks like it will stay that way, too.

I may find the time to blog a bit while I am on my down time - I'm going to have dinner and wine with the children of one of mentors in ministry who died earlier this summer as they, too, have become my friends and close to my heart, and, also head out to Montreal for some jazz and cafe society, too - but I'm not sure I will get to much writing either.

Still, before I sign-off for a bit I wanted to share this poem by Yehuda Amichai - a great poet of Israel - who spent most of his life fighting for his life: in the 1930s he fled German and the Nazis and fought in both WW II and the war of Israeli Independence only to live the rest of his life in conflict bound Jerusalem. His poem, God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children, really hit me:

God has pity on children in kindergartens,
He pities school children - less.
But adults he pities not at all.
He abandons them,
Sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the roasting sand
To reach the dressing station,
and they are streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them,
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.
Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

So many images from scripture, yes? Trees planted by the waters - my God, my God, why have thou forsaken me - the Lord is your shade - what does the Lord require? - so many more. One scholar notes that at the end... "we are one another's hope in violent times."

That is surely what I hope and pray for this ministry: that we might truly become one another's hope in these violent and uncertain times. I also pray that we might be part of the healing of America's culture wars that continue to wound and plague us - and the wider world. Like St. Francis, I ache for us to be instruments of God's peace.
Tonight, as I was driving home from my last commitment for 14 days, Lou Reed was singing, "Dirty Boulevard," on my IPOD, do you know it? Earlier I had heard brother Gil Scott-Heron's "B Movie" - the best rap/jazz song ever about American politics - and now Lou Reed's sad word picture of life on the streets of a poor, working class neighborhood in NYC during the Reagan years - but it is still as true in 2008 as it was in 1981. Lord, have mercy.

Listen to this: it is freakin' BRILLIANT... and a sad, sad prayer, too (with David Bowie thrown in for good measure, to boot!)

Rilke wrote:
Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stand somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.
And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

So... I'm going out for a walk.


Black Pete said…
Have a good rest, brother James.

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