When I look back on yesterday’s blog, I giggle a little bit. I remember writing it. I pecked the computer with one finger and very slowly.
This week, just as we were about to celebrate together as a community of both cathedral people and neighborhood people on Saint John’s Day with roasted pig and music, a stone appeared as the water of my life was careening along in a straightening pathway. I awoke Sunday, with my new alb (the white thing we wear in church) hanging in my car, ready to go to work only to find myself driving to the Emergency Room. As I dismounted my little car, I glanced at the alb, still with its creases from the box. It had taken a year, and three fittings, to get it right (one of my arms is freakishly long, my neck is freakishly wide but my girth does not match it, etc. Bodies are funny things.) But I would not wear it on for the first time on Saint John’s Day – on my first day back. Instead, I would be told in the ER that I had diverticulitis (I had to google it sitting waiting to be discharged) and went home to bed just as the processional was let loose on the cathedral.
The gory details are not for this blog, but the spiritual insight is. And that is the point. There are spiritual outcomes from the temporal thins of our lives. Telling our stories, honestly, gently – and getting collaboration is figuring life out may be what this whole jesus thing is about. Being humans and being in life together means that we share our lives together. That very authenticity, vulnerability and centered truth-telling is what the congregation is saying it wants; and I think it is what people want. Yup. After six weeks of being sick with a skull fracture, on my first day back, I was…sick in my guts. And for the record, gut sick is more painful and grosser.
As our water flows through the thing we call life, it moves around the stones we encounter. They will be eroded in millennia but not in days. They are present – illness, death, loss, grief, regret, betrayal – the whole range of human experience as well as joy, gratitude, love, kindness, celebration. Our liturgies with their triumphal tone are only real if they allow us to be real with each other in-between – otherwise they are just superstitious rituals which check the “I am a good person because I went to church this week” box on our “here is why I am a good person” list.
We face hardships. We get help. We tell each other our story with honesty and vulnerability. We take off the white and the gold and we bleed together. And perhaps that hard work of being real with each other is what Jesus was getting at in the story we repeat Sunday after Sunday.