Sunday, July 1, 2007

Unexpected Delight

(Originally posted May, 2007).

I'm hiding out in a coffee shop enjoying a bit of "anonymous time..."

I sure was melancholy in this space last week (i.e. here and here). I'm still in a quiet, tender interior space, sorting things out, wrestling with questions about faith and theology and much reading in the history of antisemitism in the church should provoke wrestling questions, and that doesn't surprise me; that's what I signed up for, after all.

Nevertheless, trying to reformulate my own theology in such a way that no one suffers for it -- what Rosemary Radford Ruether calls "peace without victims" -- is hard and tiring work. It is necessary work that requires one's heart to be broken, and I'm thankful for the opportunity. Perhaps that sounds strange but I believe it to be so.

In the midst of all this, one of the things I am coming to recognize is that in the whirlwind there is a centered place of gratitude, gratitude for the unexpected delights of my life.

**My cielo, of course, is always a delight. She surprised me this week with her tears of thankfulness for my life, for the fact of my life and my living. It was touch and go there for a few months several years ago. I am moved by her.

**HappyChurch continues to be a wonderful place to be. After the benediction I always walk to the back of the sanctuary to greet people as they head out; today, as the choir sang the -- what's the opposite of an introit? an extroit? hmm -- I looked over the congregation and up at the choir and was almost overwhelmed with, well, happiness. I haven't been with them long, and I already love them. I do. And they receive me with such delight -- about which the less-secure part of me wonders why? -- and I am thankful to be with them. I was not expecting at all to be asked to pastor any church, much less HappyChurch, right now, but this is truly a gift.

**My favorite prof., who, even in the midst of her busy life, took time with me last week to listen to me rather inarticulately try to express my pain and confusion and struggle about what we are learning in her class (she's guiding us through the antisemitism history) and the implications it has on all that we do (see above). Even though my head felt like it was about to split down the middle from the headache I had, I could see that she cared very much about what I was fumbling to say. Let grace abound, indeed.

**A new friendship emerging, totally unexpected -- I will call her, for now, CoolPastor (I hope she likes the nickname). Unexpected, and a joy. I am so thankful.

I try to put into words what these folks (and others -- BuddyJ, TheologyBabe, SL, others) mean to me but there is something in all of it that goes beyond words. I can only scarcely describe what it means to have this touchstone of gratitude centered in my heart.

...Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion...

(T.S. Eliot, from "East Coker V", from The Four Quartets)