In the Most Unexpected Ways

Many mornings when I open this blog I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I don't have a plan. Something might have sparked a small memory for me, but usually the story kind of writes itself. 

People have asked me, what is your writing style ... what is your writing practice, and then I have to kind of twist myself up and try to explain that I don't have one, that writing is something that kind of happens to me and not because of anything I do, any particular technique or habit. Stories happen to me, not unlike a sneeze or a dream ... I don't really have any control over the situation.

It sounds ridiculous, I know, but who cares? It's also counter-intuitive to everything we are taught in this life ... that we're supposed to master something, that we have to work really hard to get good at something. There's some truth to that, but there's also some truth and mystery to the idea that we're supposed to be conduits for what has to come into this world.

How do you write your sermons? people ask me. I don't, I tell them, if I'm feeling brave enough that morning, they kind of write themselves; I just hold the pencil.

Five years ago today Reid was on life support. One year ago today Joe was dying. Somehow, by some mysterious force I was part of their stories and I allowed what I experienced to transform my own life. I suspect that the two of them continue to work their magic through me.

I'm just the conduit, is what I say. Half the battle in this life is getting out of the way.

It's raining, raining like crazy today. I moved into this cottage beside the river in the frozen winter, so I am just now seeing how amazing it is to live beside flowing water. There is water overhead today, falling down on the tin roof that turns it into a beautiful and comforting sound, and water down below, moving swiftly. I feel like some kind of human mermaid-y thing, slipping and sliding in this terrestrial in-between land, 

The Easter story is playing out this week. I remember when I was a kid, staring up at the guy named Jesus hanging from a cross. I had no idea then that execution by crucifixion was a common practice. It was just scary and weird to me. The story makes a little more sense to me now, understanding it within the social and political context of the time. Still, I've never been comfortable with the bowl of granola we were fed that Jesus died for our sins. We're all still sinning like crazy and the world is full of horribleness, so it didn't work very well, if that's the story line. I much prefer Richard Rohr's take on the whole deal which is that God didn't need to be convinced that we're lovable, us silly little humans. Jesus didn't come to convince God any differently about us; Jesus came to show us a thing or two about God. Namely that God is an infinite well of generosity and humor and patience and love. Who the heck doesn't want that on their side?

  All Soul's.

All Soul's.

The other night I had the gift, the honor, the pure joy of sitting with three other Vermonters who are faith community leaders at All Soul's Interfaith Center in Shelburne. One was a Hindu, another a Muslim and the third a rabbi. And me. A Christian. The idea was that we would talk about building bridges, about how we make connections across lines of difference. We talked about generosity and patience and love and curiosity and compassion. And we made people laugh. Fran Stoddard, the moderator and person who organized the whole thing, had these terrific glittery strands in her hair that I wanted to ask her about but never got the chance. She was sitting there in her moderator chair, asking good and important questions about religion and people in Vermont and what people might not understand about our faith traditions and then the light would catch the gold or blue or green sparkle in her hair and it was totally adorable and enchanting.

You know, that's the thing about life. It catches you off-guard. There is glitter in places you don't expect to find glitter. A Hindu, a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian can share the stage and it can be very funny. The rains of this day will make the grass green. And on Sunday morning we will gather in the cemetery at daybreak and think about a guy who died, not because we're sinning jerks, but because we're shining and bright. Because we sparkle in the most unexpected ways.

Amen.