Through every entrance of any beautiful garden I have ever visited; beside retinues of trees aligned in an array of stippled, green, pinpoints of color; standing on the borderland of shoreline that separates sea and sky and earth while at the same time acting as a seam that sews them as one fabric called the universe; engraved within a ring worn as an emblem of life…I have always heard these words resounding as a chorus, the coruscating high descant, the rose adorned emblem engraved onto the wooden gate :
Begin and end there. Let it be the incantatory response of your life, for life. See you Sunday~ Thanks be to God.
I came upon The Ashley Book of Knots when I began reading Annie Proulx’ novel, The Shipping News. She uses quotes from the Book of Knots throughout her novel and explains that she came upon that book, written in 1944, in a yard sale and bought it for a quarter. It inspired her to write a novel which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. Anyway, she begins her entire novel with a quote from the Ashley Book of Knots and I want you to hear it because I think it might lend us some hope and inspiration as we try to think how we work through the double knottedness of our lives. Here is the quote from the Book of Knots:
In a knot of eight crossings, which is about the average-size knot, there are 256 different ‘over-and-under’ arrangements possible…Make only one change in this ‘over and under’ sequence and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result.
I had to read that a few times before it sunk in as to why this passage is such a hopeful one. Did you catch it? “Make only one change …and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result.” Keep this in mind as you meditate and think about your lives this week. You don’t have to solve everything today or this week. But find that one knot, that one sequence, and see if you can’t see unfold an entire series of changes for life, for peace and hope.
Friday rain. With a week-end of more rain and the deluge of the wicked and the lost is upon us. First in slow drizzle and a myriad of betrayals. The drip, drip, dripping of half-truths and lies until soaked and chilled we are. Defiled and chilled.
You would be hard pressed to find an institution more intensely focused on symbols than the Roman Catholic Church. Its liturgy is a tapestry of symbols, ornate, beautiful, compelling, richly textured by all five senses. Hence, it is inconceivable that the pontiff did not know with whom he met and embraced in the person of Kim Davis. She is a symbol for the denial of human rights to Gay persons as Gov. George Wallace was a symbol of denial to full citizenship to African-Americans. In 1963, Gov. Wallace stood at the entrance of the University of Alabama, defying the federal government’s order to move and allow Black students entrance into the university. He refused and like Kim Davis, asserted legal arguments for defying the federal government’s order. Was his act an act of conscience? of course it was and like Kim Davis’ act of conscience, a misguided and corrupted conscience. That the pontiff met her in secret alerts us to the fact that he knew what she represents. Can you imagine the pontiff meeting with George Wallace soon after his blocking the school house door and offering the excuse that he meets with a lot of people? Please. This kind of excuse is an insult to our intelligence.Once again we are subjected to the vile news that a man with a gun has shot down ten people and wounded tens of others. He apparently took glee in singling out Christians to kill. And yet, the Christian Right, the NRA and just good ole patriotic Americans feel no pang of conscience when something like this happens. We are defiled and chilled. This is The Mocking of Christ, as depicted by the Fifteenth Century artist, Matthias Grünewald. Look at who carries out this mockery in that painting. They are upright citizens, they are good old boys, they are the upright religious brigades. How awful. How shameful.
I have no political stratagem to offer. Just a lament and cry for God’s mercy in our lives and in our world. Today, find time to listen to a Kyrie. Get alone in a quiet place and pray. For we are a corrupted people whose hearts, like a branch infested by insects, are hollowed out. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
I have never taken piano lessons (or any music lessons for that matter) but my children did. We bought an inexpensive Kurzweil digital piano (back in the ’90s) when a local university was clearing its stock. I also bought a metronome. Tick-tock, back and forth, consistently keeping time and rhythm, the instrument works to keep the musician tacked to the flow of a song.
Admittedly, I have trouble with rhythm. When we sing, as we do each Sunday, “We Are Marching In The Light of God,” and all of us clap, I have to be sure to stay focused on the worship leader in order to keep clapping in rhythm. Otherwise, I get lost. It strikes me that worship is a kind of metronome. And when you worship consistently, you are tacked to the flow of time–that seventh day of rest providing a timing and rhythm to everything else that occurs in your week. Do that over the course of months and even years and you will find that for the most part, you don’t get lost even in seasons of loss; you discover a symmetry to life and your inner, spiritual life that otherwise evades people who are scurrying aboard the slippery deck of the Titanic.
Summer has ended. A new season has begun. Make worship your metronome and enter into the delight of the symmetry of a well-lived spiritual life. ~See you Sunday.
So far we’ve heard from the pulpit in this summer sermon series, references to Zombieland, The Matrix, The Truman Show and now this Sunday, August 16, we’ll refer to O Brother, Where Art Thou in an effort to understand how the Gospel connects to comedy and humor. The sermon title: ”O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels.”
We are familiar with “the shortest verse” in the bible: Jesus wept. But where is Christ depicted as laughing? Does religion and the bible have to be all seriousness all the time? Why do we have this emotional range in our lives, from weeping to laughing, from joy to sorrow? And if humor is part of being human, then why are churches so deadly boring so much of the time?
Anyway, those are just some of the questions that come to mind with a topic like this. It’s summer, folks are away (laughing and enjoying themselves, I hope) but if you’re in town, join us on Sunday at 10 a.m. ~ See you Sunday.