Monday, January 23, 2006

Reason No. 123 ...

I've lost count, but the number seems reasonable. I'm talking about the number of reasons I'm mad at our diocesan leaders and their ACN confreres.

Mother Marvelous is leaving. I've known for a few months, but just haven't been able to bring myself to talk about it.

She's leaving because she's been an assisting priest for more than three years, and it's time. She's more than ready to be a rector, but the odds of a female getting a gig as a rector in this diocese are just about nil, even if she were willing to sign the AAC/ACN creed in her own blood. The only clergy to get jobs in this diocese last year were men -- mostly old, white men -- and the ones who weren't old made up for their lack of years with an excess of "orthodoxy" and "traditionalism."

A diocese willing to lose someone like her just proved its own craziness.

Mother Marvelous has all the qualities a good rector needs. She's smart, a brilliant administrator, efficient and organized. She also uses those pastoral qualities of compassion, understanding, loving, comforting, teaching, encouraging, shepherding -- and kicking you in the seat, when you need it. There's no one better suited to the role of priest, or rector, than MM.

Without her to talk to, I don't know how I'd have gotten through all the crap of the last couple of years.

She's talking to some interested parishes -- in other dioceses. I'm praying she gets a great post. She deserves it, and the parish who gets her will be lucky. If your non-Network parish is looking for a great rector like her, let me know.

But I'm mad she has to leave.

I'm grieving. Along with most of the congregation.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The little chapel

I took this shot of the chapel at the Church of Open Arms on the evening of Epiphany. I love this little-old chapel. It's Florida carpenter Gothic, with beautiful stained-glass windows and creaky wooden pews and floors.

The Epiphany service was beautiful, complete with incense-swinging Magi. It helped lift me out of my malaise. O, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazaar!

A lady I've been bringing Communion to for the past year and a half died Monday. I went to a service for her yesterday. It's sad to lose her, but it was her time and she was ready to go. She was elderly, crippled with arthritis and other problems. I think she'd really been ready the past few months, since her health took the last big hit. I feel like our Savior/Healer has delivered her from her distress, and she's now where she wants to be.

The down side of being involved in pastoral care ministry is that most of its recipients are elderly and pretty much all are in poor health, so you deal with a lot of death. But the more I see, the more I realize how much a release death can be, when it comes at the right time.

I'm a volunteer chaplain at the local hospital, and there I see it come at what seems the "wrong" time, all too often. There's no comfort for the parents of a stillborn baby, or a woman who loses her still-youthful husband after routine surgery. Those cases I can only offer up to God and know they're dealt with through divine wisdom, beyond my understanding.

So anyway, we've had beautiful weather the past week -- clear, with highs in the 70s and 80s, after a cold snap that made Christmas seem more like Christmas.

It's supposed to turn cold again, with a freeze tomorrow night. Yikes! It's a panic around here when it freezes. All the ferneries, major agriculture in Central Florida, have to try and protect their fragile crops. The water lines from my well freeze up if it stays below freezing for long.

The weather forecast said we might get some nasty wind tonight, as the cold front passes through. I'd better go batten down the hatches.

Blessings to you all. Stay warm.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Arise, shine, for your light has come!

Isaiah's words are taken as prophecy of the Messiah who was to come.

Today's Daily Bread/Forward Movement commentator noted the story of the three wise men, and how easy it was for them and some Christians to find that light, to find Christ. For some, it's a certain thing.

For the commentator, it's a search. It's questions and questing, rather than certainty:

Some of us want that kind of journey with a clear point of arrival. Many who know the day and hour they found Jesus and were saved experience that kind of journey. A 1980s bumper sticker said it all -- "I've found It!"

"For better or worse that is not my experience. Mine is an ongoing quest marked by occasional moments of insight or mysterious experience of the Holy, but mostly by days and months of wilderness travel and no bright star to guide me.
My '’80s bumper sticker read, "I'’ve lost it."

From a number of conversations I've had, It's not easy for most people. It isn't for me. I know what pointed me to Christ; the rest has been a quest (sorry about the rhyme)

Sometimes that light shines very brightly; it surrounds me. At other times, I feel like I'm wandering dark, empty streets, seeking the light I once had.

Someone will surely tell me it's me who moved away, not God, and they're surely right.

That doesn't help.

Maybe it's better that life is a quest to know God, to search, to strain to become more Christlike. Otherwise, I'd be smugly complacent.

I excel at missing the mark; I often feel like the most unChristlike person around. That because I am definitely unChristlike. I'm not even Saintly.

I've had those God experiences. I've felt that light enveloping me. It tells me that despite my failures, God takes delight in me and loves me.

That's what I cling to on the dark nights.

Tomorrow is Epiphany. I'll try to heed the prophet's words, to arise and shine.

I wish you all a wonderful day.