Thursday, June 21, 2007

The opening prayer for worship on Sunday. I deeply suspect this was written by my rector, The Rev. R. Cameron Miller. I'll keep you posted on that suspicion.

God of billions,
who live in the igcognito of anonymity
who have been
spiritually roto-rooted
by your power that is so much greater than ourselves:
have mercy on us.

We are legion,
each one of us -
a legion of dawning splendor,
mean discontent
and unfulfilled hunger all in one person;
a trinity of saints and demons
have mercy on us.

Nothing can heal our manic desire
for more and more;
nor quiet the legion of voices
splitting our heart into minions;
nothing, that is, but you,
only you.
have mercy on us.

And you do
have mercy on us
as we follow your boat drifting away
and beckon for you to take us with you.
But, instead, you surprise us,
telling us to stay home
and do some healing here.
Beloved, we give you thanks for your mercy and healing. Amen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Video Killed the Radio Star

Alrighty then. So, there's this DVD that my parish had made. It's a little old school, but it gets the point across. Do, check it out.

Sacred Space

This is a short guided meditation that I wrote for my confirmation class to illustrate in a really experiential way, that we all have sacred space.

I thought I'd share...

There’s something that’s a little hard to describe, but there’s something about a place. It might be a memory that comes up, or a feeling – a feeling of being safe, or unsafe – think about it. We all have spaces that are sacred to us. We can feel it when someone else is there with us because we’re just so aware of the space. For instance, your bedroom at home.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine your bedroom at home. Imagine yourself lying on your bed, playing a game, reading a book, or talking on the phone. You’re lying on your bed. Picture it. Feel it. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? Know all the little details, feel them – how light or dark is it? Is the door open or closed? Is the window open or shut – is the shade drawn? What does it feel like? Think of three words that describe to you what it feels like.

Now, imagine that someone just walked in, uninvited and unannounced, into your bedroom and they’re standing just inside the doorway. And it’s not just anyone – it’s the one person on this earth that you truly do not like.

How do you feel now? Is it different from how you felt before your sacred space was invaded? Now imagine that person accepting that they are not welcome and graciously leaving your space – whether or not they’d do that in person, imagine it happening. How does it feel now? Is there still some anger or annoyance, or bitterness left over? It would make sense if there were. If that’s true for you, imagine yourself putting down the book, or the game, or telling the person on the other end of the phone that you’ll call them back in a few.

Imagine yourself getting up, standing in the middle of the room so you can see the door, and lighting a candle. If you’re not allowed to have candles in your bedroom, don’t worry – you have permission just this once. Light the candle and hold it in your hands. Watch the flame. Imagine the light of the flame driving out the darkness of the feelings that were left over by your unwelcome visitor. Imagine that all of the negativity is getting burned up, consumed along with the wax of the candle. Imagine that the barely discernable smoke that comes from the flame is the prayer, rising to God, that this space be clean again – not the sort of clean that comes from vacuuming or dusting, but the sort of clean that describes a place you know you’re safe in. Take a deep breath as you look at your candle. Your space is your own, again, so now you can blow out the candle and put it aside.

Go back to your bed and sit on the edge. Just sit there. Sit there without picking up anything to do, sit there and revel in the fact that your space is okay again. Sit, and breathe, and be in your space. Sit and breathe and be in your space, your safe, comfortable, warm space. Sit and be in your space for a few moments more, even while I don’t say anything at all. When I sound the bowl again, open your eyes and come back to this space, but for now, just sit on the edge of your bed and be in your own sacred space.

…As you can see, there are sacred spaces everywhere, and we all have them. And there are some sacred spaces that groups of people hold in common – this church is one of those. We do a lot to keep it sacred, but the biggest thing, the most effective thing that makes is sacred is that God is encountered a lot here – God is encountered in the music, in the prayers, in the people, in the sermon, in the communion, in the symbols, you name it...


Trinity @ 7 Sermon for June 17, 2007

Take a plane to New York City. From Grand Central Station take the train to Buffalo. Get a taxi into the city, right into Niagara Square. Walk down Delaware Avenue, away from the river and pause at Chippewa to get some coffee and some atmosphere. As the scent of the coffee hits you, know that even just for now, just for this moment, there is beauty in the world, and you are sitting at the center of the mandala. When you’re done with your croissant and paper, continue to stroll down the Avenue, past the construction and the repurposed church, and down half a block there is a church, called Trinity. And on a Sunday night you can come in, hear the jazz, the spoken word, and perhaps at some point you’ll look up and see God. It could happen. God’s always there, after all, waiting like a puppy at the periphery, waiting for our attention, which typically we don’t offer until we let our guard down right before we fall asleep, or when we’re eating cheesecake or chocolate ice cream from a cone, when we see a newborn anything or our oldest and best friend, or when we come to this place… This place.

This place.

Have you ever noticed how physical things get a hard rap when they come up against abstract stuff like grace, and love, and grief and suffering – when we talk about the spiritual life. And maybe that’s Plato’s fault, because really, ever since Plato and Aristotle, who are some of the heavy hitters when it comes down to the forefathers of Modern Western Thought, ever since them, it’s been a really popular notion to think of the universe as spirit versus body in a contest where body can’t win, shouldn’t win, and is a dirty rotten scoundrel for even supposing it had a chance. Now, there are a lot of implications for this, because their teachings were naturally pretty deep, fairly complex, and were, at least for their time, really convincing arguments as to how the Universe worked. I mean, some of the strange and messed up ways we look at sex, gender, and hierarchy can be traced back, at least in part, to these guys.

But, you know, it’s like Mary Oliver says – when we let our soft bodies love what they love our lives instantly lose a layer of complexity and insanity.

There’s a question that many of us are still asking ourselves even now – not just ‘who am I?’ but ‘what do I love? And how can I do it?’ Because doing what we love is one of the many roads to being what we love, which at the end of all things, is love itself.

And so the physical and the spiritual meet, just when we least suspect it.

And so it really is, with life, I think.

Bodies – they’re the things we carrying around with us until the one day we leave without a forwarding address, but they’re not just dead weight. They’re the vehicle on the road to happiness – they’re our train car to Nirvana, Enlightenment, and the Kingdom of God. They’re the way we know, the way we can experience God.

And one great way to experience God – for there are so many, if you hadn’t noticed already, so very many – One great way to experience God is to do what you love.

What do you love?