A gathering of spirits...

Today was one of those days in ministry where everything was a surprise - and it was all good - just very different from what I had expected.  Isn't that often the way of the Spirit? (I love Bob Franke's commentary on scripture:  "The Spirit blows where she will... so beware of the man selling tickets!") I think back to the days when my children were little and I ached for a profoundly lovely and intensely "spiritual" encounter during our nightly Advent wreath ceremonies. But my girls were small - and human - and were more interested in lighting the candles than the ambiance or the mystery... and so things never measured up and I would always leave pissed off! I had such expectations back then - all of them unrealistic and inappropriate for little children (and maybe for myself) - mostly because I had such an aching need.

Thankfully, at almost 60, I don't feel the need to ache for my expectations so much any more.  Sure, I still have them - and love beauty and mystery, too - but most of the time when things don't go my way... well, that's mostly ok. I don't need to project my wound upon those I love. How does Psalm 131 put it?

O Lord, my heart is not proud :
nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself in great matters :
or in things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child upon its mother’s breast :
like a child on its mother’s breast is my soul within me.
O Israel, trust in the Lord :
from this time forward and for ever.

Well, the day started with three notes from people who shared worship with us yesterday - folks I was holding close in prayer - and each person sent me a word of encouragement and blessing. I was blown away:  yes, I felt that the Spirit was alive and present with us yesterday in a unique way - and so did they. 

Then, I read some of my Internet friends' blogs:  one of the most insightful commentators on the heart of the church these days is Blue Eyed Ennis.  I look forward to her postings and always learn something important.  She is wise and humble and has a wicked cool sense for music, too. Check her out @ http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2011/10/further-thoughts-on-vatican-proposals.html utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FNfXS+%28Blue+Eyed+Ennis%29

After spending some time with my totally wonderful secretary, Becky, I went off to a meeting that I was apprehensive about.  A colleague and I had a profound misunderstanding earlier this summer... and I was hurt and I know I was hurtful, too.  So, I really didn't want to talk this through, but knew it had to be done.  Well, it turned out tender and real and good.  I owned my shit - with tears - and it was reciprocated in the best possible way.  I left giving thanks to God.

And then, OMG, a man I worked with 20 years ago when I was a part of an inter-racial school board reform team in Cleveland - my old friend Chris - was coming through town with his bride of one year!  I haven't seen him in over 15 years! We once shared so much and fought so hard against corruption in the Cleveland Public Schools and for the poorest of the poor.  And then we went our separate ways... Thank God for Facebook... where we found one another again after too long... and we ate lunch and reconnected!  It was a total feast.  You can learn more about the work Chris is doing now @ http://gogreenplus.org/2011/institute-for-sustainable-development-awards-green-plus-certification-to-six-companies/

My day ended with 10 people gathered in a circle wrestling with the lectionary texts for Advent 2011.  We only made it through Advent One - sin and darkness and watching - but it was rich and insightful.  Next week we'll try to get through the rest of the Advent texts in preparation for the counter-cultural challenge it offers to us all. 

All in all, it was a great day - a time of challenge and affirmation - a time of deep reunion and spiritual reflection - a time when I was surprised by grace!


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