Archive for February, 2020

Redeemer Roundelay

My most important function here at Redeemer is to get hold of myself.  I need to decide what I believe and why.  At Thursday Morning Bible Study, that just might happen.  We are learning to trust each other.  That means daring to ask hard questions and grow with the answers.  It means putting words to our pain and asking for prayer, and meeting the answers with gratitude.  It’s learning that these friends will call you out when you are being stupid, but will love you anyway, especially if you keep on trying.  We are getting to be cozy with the Good Book, and trying out a lively variety of its verities.

The most exciting thing I have been doing is inviting people to sample our special take on being Christian.  There is so much going on here that it’s natural to offer to share it with others, especially when some certain thing we are doing would so enrich their lives.  My grandson, Remington, finally came to check us out on Christmas Eve, and we enjoyed the warmth of a hygga fireplace and a cup of Christmas tea after the service.  He is a baritone, a guitarist, and a computer wizard, who after work likes to multiplex his soundtracks on his home computer to amazing effect.  A midnight tour of our premises ignited his imagination with respect to the Celtic service.  He promises to attend one of those soon.  Who knows where that may go?

Other than praying about it and promoting it, what am I actually doing?  I’m busy with a lot of things, but the choir is my anchor as a church member.  It’s a place where I can show up and know there’s work to be done, work I can still do, even as an old person.  Sure it’s a major concern whether this is the day I won’t make it up the aisle when balance fails, and my old computer injury keeps gnawing at my shoulder bones as I heft that music folder through yet another service.  But I can still pick up an unfamiliar score and read the soprano line like a pro.  That feels good—good to hope I might still be viable.  I’ll never sing another solo, but I can be part of the perfect harmony. 

It feels calming to make sure the choir room chairs line up just right to greet our singers as they enter, and I arrive early at rehearsal to make that happen.  I like to record our Sunday anthems when they are memorable.  My IPhone pew-sits right in front of the Tenors.  It’s set at Voice Memos and its red button, pushed-to-start, makes a beautiful memory of a morning anthem.  I text it to my sister, who just this year lost her husband, and often to my musical grandchildren who are popping up like genetic mushrooms all over the country.  Sure it may be a bit Tenor heavy, but I love tenori.  If we wait for perfect, we’ll never get anything done.  I’m making noises about doing some proper recording of the choir so we can make a CD and raise some money for our 2021 Scotland pilgrimage.  There’s even politicking to be done, trying to get the choir listed in our bulletin as a proper participant in Sunday services. 

Whatever I do at Redeemer seems to circle back to Bible Study and the prayer that sets the tone for everything else.  That’s where we go each week to pick Philip DeVaul’s brain.  It’s not so much that he tells us what to think, but that he makes us want to.  The ideas he brings to our attention are so vibrant, we spend the whole week dissecting them.  Sometimes we even feel inspired to think thoughts of our very own.  I just finished such an exploration titled ‘House of God.’  It was based on a real dream, a place visited many times in rem sleep but never before recalled on awakening.  It reads as follows:

“She sees it.  It’s there, hanging in the mist, wanting to become a real thing.  She swims in her vision, aching to get to it, sensing that this is the final answer—if there is a final answer.  Only at times like these does wanting make it so.  The haze clears as she nears, to reveal a stone church, once a place where people came for refuge, to worship and to pray.  They sensed it to be a sacred altar where God, if there was one, might hear what they had to say, even to themselves.  Their prayer lay full-formed in their minds, wanting to be muscled into striving, into belief that such things are possible—into faith.

“In the clarity of pre-dawn, she approaches the structure and wonders why it is so small, why so spare and lacking in any claim to magnificence.  She is not impressed.  Perhaps, she thinks, this is but a fool’s errand and I need not enter in.  I could leave, go back, give up, just go away and pretend I never even determined to haunt this old relic—but no.  She keeps on.  If there were outbuildings they are long gone and cleared away.  All that’s left is this one edifice reaching from out of the mist and beckoning.  She moves her feet, a studied pattern of will.  She wants to go inside and meet what she finds there—waiting—just for her. 

“There must have been a steeple long ago, but all that’s left is a discontinuity of roofline where once rocks took on an upward urge and bravely pointed the way to spirit—or to God.  If there were a door she would open it, but it has long ago succumbed to the ravages of time and age.  Only the memory of a door remains as the evidence of its past attachment, the holes left by long lost bolts and rustic cinctures.  She reaches out to touch the tiny apertures.  They are really there.  Satisfied, she engages feet and steps inside.  The dawn has not yet found its way inside this shaded vestibule.  She stops to breathe and say a prayer of thanks for this quiet entrance into what was surely a place of prayer, where folk arrived to safety, from who knows what alarms.  A deep breath, and she draws herself in her entirety into the main vault of the surround.  Only then does she look down.

“There, under her feet, are a quadrillion tiny stones, gathered there to form the underlayment of what she might—perhaps—believe to be real.  They are formed as part of the natural order of things, shaped by grinding against all other stones in an ancient river of time.  Every stone is perfect in its own intrinsic way, formed as it was out of its own primordial way of being.  She bends down and scoops up a handful of the variegated gravel.  The colors brave the spectrum of universe and reflect every hue of light’s arc of possibility.  Sparkles emanate from inside the hearts of clear gemstones, as occasional rays of white light are simply reflected out, and find purchase in her human retinas.  They celebrate that first incarnation of God as physical matter, as solid mass and rock, as molten magma, cooled and coalesced into earth, bound by gravity’s longing, circling faithfully about what it forever loves.  “These are the jewels of God’s own treasure,” she breathes, as she rolls them between her palms.

“She takes a step and notices the cushion created by movement of slick shiny pebbles sliding over their very selves and providing a safe way for feet to transverse the vastness of this nave.  She smiles, thankful for the insight.  Like most physical representations, these rocks suggest a metaphor for all the many ways of interpreting humanity’s god—one  who was there, must be there, just had to be there.  But how was he to be described?  How understood?  How worshiped, if indeed that was what he required?  She doesn’t pray for an answer.  That would be too simplistic.  She closes her eyes and touches the gratitude of being a form of life on a complex and eloquent planetary expression of Ultimate Being.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I texted ‘House of God’ to my priest, he actually read it.  That’s major!  I seem to have become a writer in this my last hurrah, and believe me, the most important thing for a writer is to find people who will occasionally read your words.  As an introvert I must think to talk, not talk to think.  Talking and thinking at the same time confounds me.  That’s why I’m so driven to write.  It’s my best way to reach for friendship.

This adventure at Redeemer has assuredly been a roundelay, a song that moves in circles.  Beginning as songs do in the choir room, it is circling ‘out-and-about’ the community, ‘up’ to Rise and Shine, ‘over-under-around-and-through’ Knittin’ Kittens, ‘on’ Sacred Ground, ‘over-the-hill’ to Second Half, and always ‘into’ the prayerful heart of Bible Study.  I love you Redeemer.  You are my church home.

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