Friday, May 8, 2015

Christ be with me...

Today - Friday - we finally arrived in Nashville - and now it feels like the sabbatical has started. In NYC it felt like a vacation, and that was part of the planned transition: I love the frenetic vibrancy of that great town. But it didn't feel "grounded" or restful.  And, in reality, I needed a bit of crazy time as part of the shifting gears.  When we ran into nasty rain, hail, fog and winds on the road to Roanoke, the mood shifted and there were flashes of pure terror when I was certain life was over.  It would have been all too easy for one of those massive 16-wheelers to rear-end us in the blinding rain.

Yesterday, therefore, was chill time - and that is all we did.  We slept, walked, rested and feasted. Today it was a grind to get to Nashville. But as soon as we got out of the car and slipped inside the quite Scarritt-Bennett Center campus, another alignment happened and both Di and I sensed, "Ah, NOW the sabbatical has started."  We are in adjoining "monk's" cells on a neo-gothic campus close to Vanderbilt University. There are students everywhere, a host of United Methodist worship leaders at the General Board of Discipleship, too; the dogwoods are in bloom and, at least for today, it was sunny and stunning outside.

Tomorrow we'll connect with Joyce Sohl, the Vespers and All That Jazz coordinator and see when we might visit for a time.  She has asked me to sit in with the jazz vespers band on Sunday evening so I'll play through the charts a few times as the day unfolds. I hope we'll hit a jazz club or two while we're in town. And walk the labyrinth (weather permitting) as we embrace the winding down phase of this transition. While in the car today we listened to Pico Iyer speak about our culture's thirst for stillness. He noted that more and more folk - religious or otherwise - are searching for ways of reclaiming Sabbath rest. Some unplug at least one day a week. Others make certain that part of their vacation time is spent on retreat. In a time that is so full of busyness, our souls ache for the essence of life.

Richard Rohr recently wrote about the challenge of stillness and solitude and both Dianne and I know we will be bumping up against his insight as this magical, mystery tour unfolds. He wrote:
The trouble--and the opportunity--in solitude is that there is no one around to blame for our moods and our difficulties. We are stuck with ourselves. Belden Lane helps clear away any romanticism we might associate with desert spirituality: "[The] desert is, preeminently, a place to die. Anyone retreating to an Egyptian or Judean monastery, hoping to escape the tensions of city life, found little comfort among the likes of an Anthony or a Sabas. The desert offered no private therapeutic place for solace and rejuvenation. One was more likely to be carried out feet first than to be restored unchanged to the life one had left."
I know I sense my fears and restlessness - my powerlessness, too - now that the quiet has started. When I read about the recently formed government in Israel, I ache for the continued suffering of Palestine - and Israel, too - as settlements are violated and fears and hatred inflamed. When I catch a snippet of news about the Iran nuclear negotiations, I gag at the stupidity and posturing so many engage in as if negotiations and peace is inferior to war-making and belligerence. When I look at the growing list of bizarre presidential candidates in the US or the ever-growing sorrow of Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake, part of me chafes at being on sabbatical. Yet such is part of this discipline, yes?  I really am mostly powerless.  I really am mostly irrelevant. I really only have this day to share with those whose lives I can touch - so why waste it on things I cannot change?

Tonight as we get ready to call it a day, I am grateful for the slowly down. I am grateful, too for the reminder of my truly small place in the midst of all creation. And I am grateful to do what I can for peace, beauty and hope. This prayer has been running around my head today:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


Shepherd said...

A true pilgramage!

Shepherd said...

A true pilgramage!

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