Saturday, June 27, 2009

Keeping silence

My mind is racing with news from friends and church family. Bad news. Tough news. Difficult problems. How do we get from birth to death without giving up?

There is no answering sentence, no bible verse, no thought taking shape in my mind. Just silence.

At first, it is uncomfortable silence. I do not like to be with people who are in such misery, such tangles. I want to feel successful, happy, cared for. I want to think that others are in control of their lives, and that I am in control of mine.

The silence does not last. I don't stay quiet long there. I want to be able to help, to make phone calls, complain, order people around and eventually send them down a dry and level path that was there all along. There is an edge to my voice. I am imperious in my wisdom. Imperious and completely ineffective.

"The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!" (Habakkuk 2.20)

Silence. Where God lives.

Silence. Where God receives the saints whose mortal life has come to an end.

Silence. Where God listens to the prayers of those who feel helpless.

Silence. Where the Creator suffers with the beloved creatures.

When death or madness or majestic upheavals rise in front of us, each moment becomes more clear, more poignant, more transcendent. Ideas have substance. Random thoughts no longer skitter about the surface of the mind. All seems to fit together. Perhaps a brain researcher could point to an area in the brains that is active, that is itself creating this sense of the sacred. Perhaps perception is heightened to allow the mind to regain a sense of control.

Or perhaps God is present. That silence is the one I must seek, before I venture forth to serve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bear witness

Revolt and protest in Iran, and the world follows the news via Twitter and Google and other networking sites on the Internet. How cool is that?

I don't Twitter or tweet or even read email on my phone. Yet. The idea of sending moment-by-moment messages to friends about where I'm going and what I'm doing doesn't appeal to me--much. Being able to go and not tell someone where is more appealing.

Of course, I don't think any of my friends would actually want to follow me around in my life in suburbia. Nor do I want to follow them. On the other hand, it would have been nice yesterday to be able to tweet out for support as I was slowly overwhelmed by Michael's, the chain store for crafters, where a million or more objects wait for someone to purchase them and then wire, glue or knot them together.

Nor should I be allowed to tweet from meetings, like a senator from the Senate floor. Griping about proceedings and people would be way too much fun. When I pray the Lord's Prayer, I ask not to be led into temptation. I believe it behooves me to not lead myself there.

But following a mass movement of people protesting a stolen election? Yesterday I followed some of the links in a New York Times article on social networking and the events in Iran. It was amazing. Ordinary people were passing on information about protests and calling for people to unite. There were pictures on Flickr of massive crowds in the streets. Stuff happens.

Imagine if we could have read messages from East Germany as communism tumbled. Imagine a blog post from an "Indian" just returned from dumping chests of tea in Boston Harbor. Imagine the almost infinite source material available to historians in the future who want to write about mass movements and popular culture.

The world can change in good ways and bad. Pray for peoples and governments. Pray that we use technology to move us forward into the kingdom of God.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Warm and clear at last, after a June week of mostly rain. Beer after rehearsal in the late afternoon sun. What follows? Either delicious relaxation or the frustration of trying to make my mind--swimming, yes, on just one beer--focus on something either serious or seriously amusing.

Things grow with such energy in June. The suburban landscape is intensely green today, lush with the promise of a good summer. "Sent forth by God's blessing" we sang this morning in church, and the world into which we were sent teemed with blessings of blue sky, temperate air, enveloping summer. Lots of tree imagery in the lectionary today and in the sermon and hymns--the kingdom of God as tall cedars or spreading shrubbery. I could almost see the over-large volunteer trees in my back yard as evidence of a new world coming to life. There are times when I regard these six-foot-tall, six-foot-wide trees as evidence of the pernicious abundance of evil and chaos on this earth. But who needs the words or the visual images they invoke when God's rain and breath have called all of summer's lushness to life outside in lawns, gardens, and parks?