Sometimes the captain of a ship will give the order, "Full stop!" It is a very simple command telling the crew to shut off the propellers (screws) so that the vessel no longer is generating propulsion. However, it can take some time for the ship to come to a complete stop because of its size and momentum, especially as it is traversing the sea. It's not like our cars where we can hit the brakes and stop fairly quickly. Some massive ships take 30 minutes before they come to a complete halt.
As we come to the summer in the church so an order of "Full Stop" is not necessarily given, but we do slow down. It is called Ordinary Time in the church calendar, and we don't have any significant religious celebrations or events that will be occurring, other than fellowship activities. Like a ship with the propulsion disabled, so we shall drift with the currents for the next few months. I
n our spiritual exercises it's important sometimes just to allow our minds to coast. We are bombarded with thoughts and activity from so many directions. There is so much to ponder and consider. Sometimes we need to give ourselves the command of a Full Stop. Even when we're drifting, we're still moving, just at a slower pace........ and with a better sense of peace and perspective possibly.
If commanding yourself to a Full Stop does not work, then an equally effective tool is telling yourself to Shut Up. Here's to a nice summer drift for all of us!
Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a "forward movement" charged to "reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work." Daily meditation is available online by clicking HERE.
When our diocesan office receives notification that someone from out of town needs a priest's intervention in a hospital or hospice setting , I am usually dispatched because of my experience in such areas. The week before last I kept vigil with a sweet lady for a day as her husband was actively dying. (The medical world would deem that the majority of us are passively dying, I suppose!) She and I spent our time reflecting on life, the church, grief, and many other topics as her husband drifted to larger life. It was sacred time.
The next day I was walking the dog and came across a crime scene in my neighborhood. I was saddened to learn that a young man of 23 years had committed suicide. Over the week I witnessed numerous folks from the family's church and the larger community at the home providing support and love to the survivors.
As the week progressed, so I learned that school is now back in session for a new academic year. Summer is over? Not quite. Summer will end on September 22nd. Yet the pace of life does change as folks return to school. The cycle of life continues, and we remain trusting in God's providence and care.
On another night as I walked the dog, an elderly man stopped and asked how I was going to acknowledge the solar eclipse on August 21st. I had not made any plans, though in our chat he surmised our church parking lot will provide an extra 90 seconds of prime viewing in contrast to seeing it in Bellevue. I suppose Sophie and I will be at the church at 1:30 pm pm that day to see the wondrous natural phenomena if traffic allows. (Join us, if you wish!) I was amazed how the man was consumed with the eclipse's occurrence and potential heavenly beauty, even stopping an absolute stranger to converse about it.
As the week continued, so our parish's quarterly visits to the homebound occurred, and I saw folks who were managing and coping with life.........on good days. They appreciated the attention and being remembered.
Then comes news of Clara Grace McFarland's birth. Welcome to the world! Welcome to life, death, solar eclipses, new school semesters, the homebound, and the homeless: The wonders of life and the mysteries of love.
From our readings last Sunday, Elijah could not find God in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Conversely, I seem to find him everywhere, working covertly and overtly!