Friday, May 8, 2020

The Goal Is To Arrive

Poem/Reflection for V Easter                                    St. Andrews by the Sea Church, Nags Head, N.C. May 10, 2020                                                                   Thomas E Wilson, Supply Clergy

The Goal is to Arrive

Let me start off with two prayers written by Cara Ellen Modisett, the seminarian who had planned to be with us earlier this year before we were shut down by the Covid 19 Virus. She is working on a project to take a word from the Sunday lessons and create a prayer centered on that word. She shared this blessing with me:

Stronghold Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

God of refuge, you are our stronghold in the midst of fear, our comfort in days of grief. Help us to find strength in you always, and hope in the resurrection of your son, who overcame death and lives again, in whom we are born again to joy and healing and communion with you. Help us carry that strength and joy and healing to others, so that we may reconcile your children to one another and to you. In the name of your risen son Jesus Christ, amen.

Ask John 14:1-14

Creator God, your glory is beyond our comprehension and our vision. We forget that you are present not only in the vast beauty of your universe, but also in the quiet of our hearts. You know our hopes and our griefs before we ask, you know us before we know ourselves. Be with us in glory and in quiet, and let us never forget that you are no further away than our breath. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.

In the cul-de-sac of my neighborhood, I am blessed with neighbors who live here year-round. Yet, there is one family, in which the parents both teach up in New Jersey during the school year and come here during the summer and holidays with their two children. The two young people are in two different universities here in North Carolina and we have watched them grow up. I first met the family when the kids were very young. I used to be able to pick up those kids, throw them up in the air and catch them. Those days are long past. My wife and I have been guests at her Bat-Mitzvah and his Bar-Mitzvah up in New Jersey and I never thought of trying to convert them. They already know how to love. Their parents did a good job.

20th Century Jesuit Theologian Karl Rahner proposed a term, “Anonymous Christians.” He suggested, in essence, that while Jesus was the Christ in bodily form on this earth, but the Spirit of the Risen Christ, whom John said, “was in the beginning with God and not one thing was created without him,” is more than the human Jesus. This Spirit of the Risen Christ is manifested in the Grace to lead a life of loving God and neighbor outside of professing any particular Creed or church attendance. I remember one time when the church in which I was the Rector was hosting dinner for the summer lifeguards at the Duck Fire Station and our neighbors' girl joined us and I asked her to say grace. She did it in Hebrew and in English, and we, our guests and the food were blessed.

The mother of these two young people wrote me about how the whole family is doing: The son and daughter have had to leave a lot of their stuff behind in their dorm rooms, the daughter's car is still in the parking lot of the airport in Charlotte, the daughter's summer job at the Lost Colony has been cancelled, she has worked there for years and last year she understudied Queen Elizabeth I in the play and got to go on a couple times, all four of the family are working virtually, and everything is crowded in the faculty housing in New Jersey; yet the mother feels, and is, blessed.  As a NRPO, Non-Resident Property Owner, they just were able to get permission to cross the bridge to get back to the Outer Banks, but they blessed us with their love.

She sent me a posting two weeks ago by Comedian Paul Ollinger, in Forge, Your Only Goal Is To Survive; To Survive in Quarantine, You Need To Change Your Metrics. He was writing about a trip he took with his wife and sick baby on a transcontinental flight. It was a horrible trip and he learned the he had to adjust his metrics about the trip; to move away from expectations of perfection to an awareness of what is important. This is the highlight of the article:

Last week, as I read an article encouraging people to use the coronavirus quarantine to achieve something “extraordinary” with their lives, Jen’s advice came screaming back to mind. Today’s flight, dear friends, is very much delayed: not by hours, but months. Travel conditions are—to put it mildly—suboptimal. Each of us should have in mind only one goal: to arrive on the other side in one piece.

As I looked at the lessons for today. Here is Stephen. being stoned to death in the lesson from Acts. Yet he looks up and beyond the rocks thrown in anger and fear, he asks that the Lord to receive his Spirit and forgive all those who are hurting and hating him. Here is Jesus, talking with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion and before they all fled away in terror. Jesus moves us from survival of faith to arrival fully in God's love at the end of our journeys.

When I was a child, every summer we would take at least two trips, one to my grandparents and another to a cabin on a lake. They were all long trips. We had big cars for those trips. Originally, we had a big black Packard with red leather seats, which was replaced with a big Cadillac complete with fins. They were big; but with four children, one dog and two parents they seemed small as the kids would get easily bored and distracted. My mother, who at been raised as an only child, would cry out about how she had always longed for a brother or sister and how lucky we were. She loved us, in spite of how unloveable we were at times. She taught us how to love, not only with her words, but in her life. She ended her journey on earth surrounded in love.

I have talked with several mothers over the past weeks of their staying at home, and how they have had to handle all the stuff over the months of shut down. It can be hard but, for the most part, they are able to remember that this is a journey with many difficulties, but surrounded in love and blessings when they are able to change the metrics from perfection to thanksgiving to get them through to the next arrival.

The Goal Is To Arrive

Today, it sure had its limitations;

feeling annoyed about control lack,

and wondering who's got my back,

in all these unasked for situations.

Think of some mothers that I know,

who weren't able to always thrive,

yet each day, they'd work to strive,

say prayers of thanks for the show!

In comedy, or in tragedy, our parts

are improvised in all our daily acts,

when we are able to arrive at facts;

quiet is the main work of our hearts!

Perfection, reserved for God above,

is found when we aim to share love.

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