I am powerfully aware on this Easter Day that there is so much for us to be thankful for, so much that we have accomplished, and so very much that remains to be done. I have had the good fortune of having some unusually powerful conversations with people over the last two to three weeks. The ironic thing is that some of the most powerful of those conversations have been with people I have met only recently. I have found their insight to be amazing.
I have spoken with two women who both have children, who have both known homelessness with their children, who have asked for help from the Church at a critical point in their lives and have been refused, and who now have homes and jobs but who wonder if they will ever be loved. Neither of them were accepted or loved by their families of origin. One of them doesn’t believe she will ever be able to allow herself to be loved (having been terribly abused by her ex-husband, from whom she still hides), yet she is one of the most loving people I have met. Despite all of this, they believe…
On Good Friday (and yes, I know weddings aren’t supposed to happen on Good Friday) I spent some time with some folks from Ireland looking through a window at a snowstorm that dropped more than a foot of snow on this city. They told me that in Ireland they get two or three snows a year of an inch or less. I am sure they wondered about where their daughter/sister has chosen to live with her new husband. I was wondering about where I have chosen to live!
Last night at the Easter Vigil, I was privileged to be present as Br. Paul Ricketts, CCSF was ordained to the diaconate at Love of God Cathedral. I was overcome with the sense of wonder I always am aware of at ordinations, and with that strong interior sense of humility – who am I, after all, to be present at these profoundly moving sacraments? Who am I to be standing on holy ground? And, talk to me all you want about apostolic succession and Holy Orders and your feelings pro or con, but don’t ever try to tell me something powerful, wonderful, Sacramental, and real isn’t happening there. If you feel that way, you simply aren’t paying attention.
I find myself being led on a regular basis to encounters and situations I never dreamed I would experience. I have learned that if I merely am open to the encounter I will be given what I need to be present to the situation in an authentic way. I am convinced that is the heart of all ministry. I am also convinced that as western Christians much of our training centers around a retreat from engagement into intellectualism, and that is a terrible sin. We are called to get out of our heads and into our hearts.
This Easter if something isn’t working in your life, if something isn’t working, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, throw it away. If there is one thing I have learned in ordained ministry it is that spending time trying to repair what is either broken beyond all hope or what doesn’t want to be repaired is a colossal waste of time and effort and will literally suck the life right out of you. If there are things that need to be said, we need to say them. If there are things that need to be done, we need to do them. If we aren’t particularly good at something, we need to admit that while recognizing that we aren’t called to be perfect.
I was asked last week what holiness is. My response surprised me. I say, “Holiness is nothing more or nothing less than full engagement with life. Anyone who tried to tell you it is something else is lying to you.” The more I reflect on what I said, the more convinced I am of two things. The first is that those words came from somewhere outside of me. The second is that they are absolutely correct and frightfully powerful.
Happy Easter! Engage life!