In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It’s a pilgrimage route that has been walked for nearly a millenium. When you walk 500 miles, carrying everything you think you need in a backpack that weighs well under 20lbs, you learn a lot about yourself, your friends, your stamina, your beliefs, and your God (if you use that terminology).
This election season has given me many reasons to rejoice in my experience of pilgrimage. I have needed to fall back on lessons learned on the Camino just to even try to walk through this election season. Things like: each person is on his/her own journey; there is no single way to walk through this world; things ain’t always as they seem; it’s okay to be uncomfortable (really, it is!);
But most of all, I have been glad that I finally found my voice. I no longer am afraid to have my own opinion, even when it conflicts with those of my family and people I consider to be friends (most of the time); I am free to look at the things that candidates say and to evaluate them for myself.
As a result, I am better able to step aside and try to be open to seeing those I disagree with through the eyes of Christ or a loving Father, It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort. It doesn’t mean that I could ever vote for a Donald Trump, but it means that I am learning to try to see the fears that seem to drive those who would vote for him. Not succeeding in many cases, but open to trying.
In the second debate when Hillary Clinton tried to calm the waters by saying that she had no problem with Trump supporters, only with Trump I wanted to scream — I have a problem with those who support him. The fact that there are those who are fairly rabid supporters makes me worry… it makes me worry for our country and our world. It makes me sad that so many people feel disenfranchised and afraid. It makes me sad that so many people are afraid of “the other” (latinos, muslims, arabs, blacks, etc). The Great America that these folks seek is not a place where I would want to live.
I’m still working thru great disappointment and distress at seeing how some people I used to hold in high esteem seem to feel. I’m trying to find how to respect them again. It’s not easy. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail miserably.
2016 election blues — only in God is there a cure.
God for us, we call you “Father.”
God alongside us, we call you “Jesus.”
God within us, we call you “Holy Spirit.”
Together, you are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
We went to mass at a place rather distant from my home parish this weekend. Distant as in miles, distant as in Presence. A nice blessing of the palms in the square in front of the church. A procession. A well rehearsed chorale accompanied by a pipe organ in mass. A leader of song up front. The Passion read clearly. Very brief homily. Lots of incense. A beautifully decorated and appointed church. 250 miles from home. The motions were very well carried out. It felt empty to me.
God is good. I am not asked to attend this church, or one like on a regular basis. I am invited to walk with Him in everyday events, or in a small (ok, tiny) parish without regular musicians. I am aware of God’s presence in so many ways. This distance of a cathedral with smells and bells is not insisted upon.
Thank you Lord.
I found the following in today’s email reflection from Richard Rohr:
We seem to think God will love us if we change. Paul clearly knows that God loves us so we can change. The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what loving people do for one another–offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, you need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life.
This is a “thank you” to those who have given me the time and space to feel safe, to feel I do have dignity and let me know that I am loved. I’m not going to name names, but I do thank you. I only hope that I can bring these things to someone else.
This is going to sound really shallow and self-centered, I fear. I’m going to write it anyway.
We are building a new house. We will be leaving this house that has been home for 31 years. Granted, we are staying in the same town. But, we’ve been on this spot of ground for 31 years — raised 3 children here, survived a fire and rebuilding here, planted blueberry bushes that I will truly miss here.
This morning in mass I had a flash of Holy Week and Easter and it was captured in this whole house business. How’s that? It’s all about the excitement of new and the future rather like Palm Sunday. That’s followed by the Holy Week walk where one realizes that to get to that new, shiny, happy place, there is all kinds of dying that’s going to have to happen. All kinds of things to let go of. There’s the realization that some old friends just won’t make the transition successfully. Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter denied knowing Jesus and the disciples just couldn’t stay awake all night with Jesus as he prayed his way through these realizations. There’s the moment when it looks like there is no hope — Jesus has died on the cross, after all, and what’s it all for? Then, there is the new beginning when Mary Magdalen discovers that He has risen. Even then, she (and the world) have no real idea of what this new life will be.
I am excited about the new place. It’s larger inside, has a 2 car garage and someone else takes care of the yard. The other homes on the street with the same floor plan feel spacious and comfortable. There will be a zero entry shower which is near and dear to my heart after being in a cast and a boot for over 2 months now and dealing with a wheelchair ( I was a failure at crutches), a knee scooter and a walker. High ceilings, large closets and an open kitchen. So much to look forward to.
But the journey, while nowhere near the struggle of Holy Week has some mild parallels. To get to that new home, I must walk away from this home of 31 years. I will no longer live next door to Mary and Larry. I won’t have dog doors or a fenced yard for Cooper and Grace. If I want blueberry bushes, we have to plant and nurture new ones. The yard will be smaller, the covered back porch will be smaller. We must decide what goes with us and what goes to the curb or gets sold or given away. And, I’m sure there will be moments when I think “What in God’s name was I thinking? How will this work? Will this work?” I don’t let go easily.
Yes — it seems shallow in many ways to even begin to make a comparison. However, I have found that great spiritual and emotional lessons are often learned best in the most common, but concrete experiences. Moving. Just deciding to move. Realizing that it’s time to move.
Today’s Gospel is the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) — Paraphrased it goes like this:
Jesus takes Peter, John and James up to the mountain to pray. As usual, they doze off while Jesus prays and is transfigured ( I think transformed might be a good word for the event) as he hears from Moses and Elijah about his mission and what is to come. The sleepyheads come full awake and behold the Jesus in his glory. They of course want to stay in this wonderful time/space and make a memorial. But, God says — “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him.” In the end, the leave the mountain and keep their mouths shut about what they have seen, at least for the time being.
My first thought was that the Transfiguration says a lot more about the disciples than it does about Jesus. Jesus was still Jesus, but he was being seen in a new light. They began to get a glimpse of what was really happening. They saw the light. They were touched. They began to see differently. And God spoke to them.
Upon a second reading, I begin to see that Jesus was changed — I think that as he prayed, he came to see himself differently and more clearly and that change just couldn’t be hidden. It had to shine. It had to show.
Along my current path, where I find myself questioning the institutional church, its teachings, its functioning, its place in my life I also heard the words that God said: “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him.” In the Gospels, I am having difficulty finding any references to Worship Jesus. I find the verbs listen & follow. It’s proving difficult for me to reconcile the stories of the biblical Jesus with current church practices. I know it must be possible because people like Pope Francis seem to be able to live out the Gospel and still work within the Church.
Still thinking. Still praying. Still seeking.