WHO AM I?

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TWELVE AROUND TABLE this morning, as of long ago, gathered for burning bush encounter the rabbi said all could and should know. With genius insistence on open hospitality, Jesus gathered people around – thankfully, eucharistically, speaking of God in the midst of them, in-their-flesh, in 'adamah, earthed and in touch, breathing ruach, God-breath, communion, in and through and for and all around them – in and on and of Genesis ground.

There are times, many times, when it seems that God's message for all of us is, as Fr Richard Rohr often reminds us: “Don't get rid of the pain until you have learned its lessons.” Hard though it be for us to grasp, desperately disinclined to undergo it, brokenness heals us into wholeness.

Unfortunately, Fr Richard goes on to reflect, “we have the natural instinct to fix pain, to control it, or even, foolishly, to try to understand it. The ego always insists on understanding. That’s why Jesus praises a certain quality even more than love, and he calls it faith. It is the ability to stand in liminal space, to stand on the threshold, to hold the contraries, until you move to a deeper level where it all eventually makes sense in the great scheme of God and grace.” (Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered)

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And, of course, some of us have no other choice available to us than lonely grace and space into which to speak our prayers and our questions. For some, some of the time, as for Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred in 1945, there's no other option available. But the life and witness of this pastor called our attention to the Jesus who calls people to round table, to pray and to stay and to question together – breathing the life of communion: a higher, lower, deeper, broader, wider dispensation, the kingdom of heaven.

WHO AM I? – Bonhoeffer asked … Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

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WHO AM I? They often tell me I stepped from my cell’s confinement calmly, cheerfully, firmly, like a Squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me I used to speak to my warders freely and friendly and clearly, as though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me I bore the days of misfortune equally, smilingly, proudly, like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of? Or am I only what I myself know of myself? Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage, struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat, yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness, tossing in expectation of great events, powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance, weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Church remembers Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor & Martyr on 9th April

 

SAME THING MANY DIFFERENT WAYS

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HUGO GOT IT immediately – the point and purpose of our 10am Kaleidoscope Mass, the first of twelve, one a month, on the first Sunday of the month, for twelve months. 

Hugo, when I asked him what he’d seen when he looked through a kaleidoscope, said

I’ve seen the same thing, many different ways

WHAT THE CHURCH IS FOR

And that’s what the Church is for! More than that, it’s what LIFE is for. Seeing the same thing, many different ways.

(Everyone gets a chance for a look: we’ll be passing a dozen or more of the marvellous instruments around during each “Kaleidoscope Mass” and then offering them back to God, collected in a basket – the offering of ourselves in our “many colours” and our innumerable perspectives).

MAKING A EUCHARISTICALLY THANKFUL PEOPLE

We’ve been wanting to draw younger people, and older people, and every age in between, into deeper ways of celebrating and making Eucharist (making thanksgiving, offering thankfulness, redemption and peace) together. How can we make connections between “the Lord’s Table”, the altar, in Church, and the “the Lord’s Table” at home, in kitchens and dining rooms?

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RE-MEMBERING

Can we encourage one another, by the grace of this Sacrament, to remember and re-member the faithfully Jewish Jesus of Nazareth – and the grace and love he proposed for all people – every time we “eat this bread and drink this cup” – whether “at Mass / Holy Communion / the Eucharist / the Lord’s Supper” in Church, or at daily breakfast, lunch, hillside picnic for 5000, or dinner?

Can we encourage one another to believe that our Christ (ie Christos – “anointed” and commissioned) intended, brilliantly, that this universal human act and need (eating and drinking) could, and might still, make communion for every child and woman and man upon earth, of whatever faith tradition, or of none. Can we see that “redemption” is a calling each of us back home to our senses? – to OUR vocation to be “christos”, called and commissioned in our world, in our time, today.

WE’RE ALIVE – THANK GOD!

How do we remind ourselves that sacramental sign and symbol is given to point us to universal (catholic – inclusive – applicable for all in every time and every place) truths? How do we help each other in Church, and at home, and at work to make a holy communion? How can we help one another to be a truly eucharistic (thanks-giving) people, thereby enabling one another to be truly, thankfully conscious of being alive?

How do we re-member, how do we “put flesh on the bones” of the Body of Christ now on earth?

… Gather us in, the lost and forsaken, gather us in, the blind and the lame; call to us now, and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young, our lives are a mystery, we are the old who yearn for your face; we have been sung throughout all of history, called to be light to the whole human race. Gather us in, the rich and the haughty, gather us in, the proud and the strong; give us a heart, so meek and so lowly, give us the courage to enter the song.

Marty Haugen

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TOGETHER

Well: by doing it TOGETHER. And by seeing and hearing and imagining the message of a Kaleidoscope – an instrument that presents a single vision initially, and an attractive enough one at that. But it gets better when there’s some interaction, when we engage with a bit of what the Greeks call “metanoia” or “repentance” – a turning around. When we turn the viewer around we begin to see things from many different perspectives, many different times, traditions, native origins, birthrights – many different places. We begin to see the same thing, many different ways. We recognise again, as though for the first time, a great Love at the heart of all Life that seems to be be calling us all to be one: to be a holy communion.

FLEXIBLY

How though? How …?

Well: flexibility is a fundamental. And there has to be both fun and some proper solemnity – perhaps better called “depth”. We’ve found it helpful to have a big carpet for people who like to sit on the floor, with a doll or a teddy or a granny, to be able to. And we like things we can shake to make a joyful noise when we sing. And when we shake things we find that they shake us and so there’s a kind of a “Lord of the Dance” without any effort.

There has to be, for us, something of the glory of liturgy – or “the work of the people” – and we need as many as possible to be directly, physically involved. So today a very small, very young, very smiley boy headed the procession bearing a very special, very small processional cross, specially made by our very smiley Sexton.

UNSEEMLY SCRUM? or LIGHT, HOSPITALITY & HUMILITY?

And one of our churchwardens brought coloured lanterns for acolytes, borne aloft by six youngsters, encircling two more as they proclaimed the Gospel. We looked at kaleidoscopes, and the children presented a brief “It’s My Party” at which an unseemly scrum took place as some naughty people fought for best place – learning quickly and solemnly that that doesn’t make for Communion – and it’s always a wider, eternal invitation that makes for a real union. Hospitality calls for humility – on the part of both giver and receiver.

And we engaged with lavabo – washing each other’s hands; and raising bread and celebrating with wine, together (some behind and around me, some before and beside me) – together, we gave the thanks. And took, and blessed, and broke, and gave – and were fed – and were taken, and blessed, and broken, and given.

LIKE BEING AT HOME

And then we didn’t want to go home. Perhaps because we felt we were home. Sherry and squash at the West End. A buzz. Catching up on the News – and a whole host of views, about Syria, and song, and nail varnish. We didn’t want to go home. For quite a long time. Thankful. Eucharistic. Our first Kaleidoscope Mass. Seeing the same thing, differently. New life taking wing. Something new to sing.

Will it work well for twelve months? No-one can tell. But today was great. The Lord was doing a new thing. It’s very likely that in twelve months (or even before then) we’ll need another rethink. So be it. But that will involve team work, like this one, as well.

THANKS BE TO GOD

Next one, Sunday 6th October – Dedication & Inclusion – with Messy Church on 28th September in between …

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BEARING GIFT & MOTHERING

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Audio mp3 here | mp3 download here

THE ROW ABOUT the Women Bishops debacle isn’t going to go away – the UK church press has been reporting this week – though the UK press at large, it appears, has pretty much let it do precisely that. That’s not such a huge surprise though, is it?

I’ll be glad if the row doesn’t go away because, however long it takes, a positive conclusion in favour of ordaining women to the episcopate – hopefully adding thereby a richer, fuller share of feminine wisdom to the “oversight” of the Body of Christ – will ultimately have literally catholic consequences for much – and many – more than just ordained women and men – or other Christians. I’ve spoken and written before of women having actually been episcopal – guardians and overseers of Wisdom faith and the gifts of the Spirit, for many, many generations. Not always ordained though. Like Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the other Apostles. Just called. Just following. Just turning the world – in the world – upside down. Just feeding (seems like) five thousand and being the providers, and the balm of life, and the cure of woe.

Yes: this debacle flags up for us, more perhaps than anything else in a long time has, that the Church today, as at various times and places in the past, has become too bureaucratic, too Book-bound, too busy, too churchy, too greedy, too noisy, too self-important, overbearing and self-protecting – none too keen at all on the thought of taking up a cross. (Especially whilst we’re so busy with all the Christmas shopping). We’ve forgotten about Advent. Forgotten about the call to have a bit of a re-think. Forgotten about the coming of the Real Christ. Fonder by far of Father Christmas, who – the legend says – has to operate on a limited budget so that each and all the world’s children are treated equally.

And we’ve come to think that the “Body of Christ” has actually very little to do with body – female or male, gay or straight. “Holy Communion” and attendant legislation sometimes displaces plain loving, plain human holy communion. That’s especially tragic since the sacrament is about nothing if it’s not about being eucharistic, about being thankful, about celebrating the reality of Divine provision – enough – of food and of drink and of every kind of love – for the Rainbow People of God, enough for every woman, child and man upon the earth if only we’d get our Christ-act into gear and engage with some Real practical Heaven-on-Earth Salvation.

Tiresome, circular, synodical and nod-off-ical discussions about ecclesiastical authority have usurped the all-important status that Jesus accorded to servanthood, and to right-being as opposed to (ecclesiastically) doing. Yes! – Jesus thought very differently. Ask his Mother. Or Mary from Magdala. Or Jairus’ daughter. Or the High Priest and his colleagues. Or the hated, occupying, heavily taxing Roman authorities. Or just about any woman or child or man he encountered, not forgetting those who tried and crucified him.

So we need to have a rethink, an annual Advent – or “coming” rethink, about incarnation, about being in the flesh, about human life.

The consequences I’ve alluded to have to do with women and men working in necessary partnership, in our shared search for self-knowledge, as a people under God – or to put it less religiously – a people who are in charge of their own destiny only insofar as that means being “in charge” as but one member of a community, a blessed communion, a worldwide human community, comprised of all faiths and none, that was brought to life, and sustained in that life, by something Other than itself.

In the Church these consequences have to do with a host of questions, some of them ancient, some of them being brought into the light of day only in our time, and amongst which are these:

Who, what and where, was and is God – the Source of Life?
Who, what and where, was and is Mary “Mother of God” and why?
Who, what and where, was and is Jesus Christ and why?
Who, what and where, was and is the Body of Christ now, and why?

Interlude: a reflection made by the late priest and Warden of Keble College, Oxford, Austin Farrer

Mary holds her finger out, and a divine hand closes on it. The maker of the world is born a begging child; he begs for milk, and does not know that it is milk for which he begs. We will not lift our hands to pull the love of God down to us, but he lifts his hands to pull human compassion down upon his cradle. So the weakness of God proves stronger than men, and the folly of God proves wiser than men. Love is the strongest instrument of omnipotence, for accomplishing those tasks he cares most dearly to perform; and this is how he brings his love to bear on human pride; by weakness not by strength, by need and not by bounty.

Back to the questions and to the consequences –

Who, what and where, was and is God – the Source of Life?
Who, what and where, was and is Mary “Mother of God” and why?
Who, what and where, was and is Jesus Christ and why?
Who, what and where, was and is the Body of Christ now, and why?

Who, what and where, was and is God – the Source of Life?

God is the Source of Life – is the source of all things living, past, present and future: a Who – in the sense of an Other that humankind has long perceived the possibility of being in some sort of relationship with; as to what – God is a Presence that humankind has described by various means and words as fundamentally “Spirit and Truth”; as to where – God is Presence and present wherever the continuing process of Creation is taking place, and so everywhere; as to was – God has been described as having been “uncreate” and therefore outside the boundaries of humanly understood and invented time; God is the aforementioned Source of Life – the source of all things living, past, present and future. Neither fully known, then, nor a Presence that humankind may shape or conform to its own will. This Spirit and this Truth “listeth where it wills”.

Who, what and where, was and is Mary “Mother of God” and why?

As to who – Mary is said to have been a young and devout Galilean girl – a young “virgin” or “maiden” – from Nazareth; as to what – the unmarried mother of a male infant of Galilee, albeit legally promised or “betrothed” to a man named Joseph “of the House of David”; as to where – St Luke records that the birth took place “while they were there” in Judea, in the city of David, which is called Bethlehem – a town whose name in Hebrew means “House of Bread” or, one might say, “a place of provision for the hungry”. Called to be “Theotokos” – God-bearer, Mary was innocent, fearful, gracious, self-giving, faithful and ready to serve a cause higher than her own: “let it be to me according to your word”, she said, and “he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away”.

Mary had good intuition. Mary recognised that God the Source of Life – and life itself – sometimes turns human understandings of right and wrong upside down, but with good reason. All these things Mary was, and is, still. Mary was and is a handmaid – an instrument for the perpetual bringing to birth, again and again and again of the life of God.

A prototype for the mothering of the reign of God into the midst of ordinary impoverished human life, life that’s less than it could be but far from finished with. Mary is the model for the concern for the world and for all who live in it, and of the receptivity that’s required deep in the guts of we mothering men and women and children alike.

Mary modelled and still models what it might mean to bear God into the world because (and here’s a big consequence) – because you and I are to bear God into the world in precisely the same way – concerned and protective – always ready to empower the lives of the homeless, the illegitimate, the threatened and the dispossessed; always ready to wrap a cloak tightly and warmly around innocents who must flee from the impending threat of death. Namely, you and me and all of us.

Who, what and where, was and is Jesus Christ and why?

Jesus was the name given to the male child born to Mary in the place where provision for the hungry is made; Jesus thought of himself as a son of man, nobody special, except insofar as he was a man with a burning passion, a man with a vision that he was willing to share with all-comers – a vision for the dispossessed, that all should come to believe that all of Life is intended for all of humankind. Kind, generous, deeply loved by women and men and children alike, unconcerned with material comforts for himself, understanding though not legalistically bound by laws concerning who was deemed clean or unclean, righteous or unrighteous, a friend of human failures and therefore potentially a friend to be recognised by all, a bringer of healing and truth into sorry situations – and in that sense thought by many to be truly a “redeemer” – an “Emmanuel”, a God-in-the-midst-of-our trials. Jesus, though, was also despised, mocked, hated, hunted, tried and crucified – whilst never giving up on the cause, then or in his ongoing or “risen” life – the life in which he appeared and “appears” to countless people all over the world.

This son of man sought to lead all people into understanding that he and they together were and are and will be the daughters and the sons of God – of Life. Unusually for his time Jesus had no foibles about keeping company with women – even with women who were deemed by men “unclean” by virtue only of their being women. Women loved him. He loved them and he depended upon their love, their hospitality, their generosity, their tenderness, their willingness to speak – even about strange and unfamiliar new circumstances – and their deep and abiding feminine Wisdom. And he will have been very well aware of the subtle nuance contained in the Hebrew word used to describe the life that God breathes into ‘adamah – dust; the word ruach is a feminine word! Would-be strong-men need feminine contribution.

And so to our final question – and not forgetting aforementioned talk of Advent – or coming- consequences –

Who, what and where, was and is the Body of Christ now, and why?

We are the “Body of Christ” – the successors of one who was called “Christos” – an “anointed one” – one possessed, just as we are, of the Life, the anointing, of God in him. As to what the body now on earth is to do – Jesus himself provided a clue – “you will do greater things than you’ve seen me do”. As to where the body will be at work – well those first “learners”, those first “disciples” spread out all over the world after the death and “new life” appearances of Jesus from Nazareth. They spread a “Gospel”, news of “great joy”, encouraging beleaguered humankind to a “metanoia” – a rethink, a turning, a new way of looking at life, and at love, and at hospitality, and at service, and (ordained-by-God) purpose. Some of their successors became philosophers, and scientists, and Buddhists, and Hindus, and star-gazers, and some became known as Jews. A strand of the Jewish tradition became known as “followers in the Way” or Christians.

From all of this we can gather that the “Body of Christ” will properly be doing its work in and through all people in and throughout the whole world. The body of Christ, brought into the world through the joint co-operation of God, women and men, the body of Christ that is you, and me, bears God’s anointing to the world in the same ways that Mary and Jesus modelled for us – only, to quote him again, Jesus said “you will do greater things than you’ve seen me do”.

The consequences amount to great measures of healing for humankind, wherever the Gospel, the redemption, the “coming home” is gifted, willingly, and caused to bear fruit, caused to “mother” in the reign of God – to whom “Magnificat” (“make great the Name of LORD”) may then be sung with enthusiasm by poor and rich, high and low, unfaithful and faithful, alike.

Jesus Christ, mothered of Mary, signals to you and to me the Advent of God, the coming of God, the anointing of God, the breath of God into every area of human existence today and everyday, again and again. Mary the “Mother of God” and her ordinary-but-out-of-the-ordinary son have “redeemed” us – potentially ALL of us if the body of Christ now on earth is working as it should. They have shown us the way home to ourselves. The way home to Bethlehem, the house of provision for the poor, the hungry, the destitute, the homeless, the blind, the deaf, the halt, the hopeless, the faithless, the lame, the sick and the dying; the house of provision for disciples, learners, apostles, women and children and men working as one; the house of provision for the wise – the magi – who make proper and fitting use of money and gold, and of frankincense-prayer, and of their deep knowledge, shared with the virgin Mother’s Wisdom, that in earthly life, burdened as it is by many and varied human disappointments, there’ll always be need of the salve of ointment, there’ll always be a need – in life and in death – for myrrh. Until women and children and men, precisely, “enter again into their Mother’s womb” and are born to “Immortal Love, for ever full, for ever flowing free; for ever shared, for ever whole, a never-ebbing sea” – until they’re born – eternally – beyond the grave, where the waters have broken, and the road to home is a narrow pathway through the sea; until they are completely and irrevocably anointed, “christened”, forever born again to the Source of Life and the heart of Love.

Advent then speaks of Jesus – of a human being’s coming into our world, and of his coming in, and above, and below, and with, and through, and all around us, again and again and again. Advent calls us – all humankind – to run to the House of Bread, to run to the place of provision, rejoicing and thanksgiving; to run to the place where lions lie down with lambs. And it’s very, very near, only a day’s walking in fact, from earth’s little House of Bread, to JERUSALEM – to the fulfilment of “the Vision of Peace”. God’s Shalom. For women, for children and for men.

May I be forgiven for repeating –

Yes: this debacle flags up for us, more perhaps than anything else in a long time has, that the Church today, as at various times and places in the past, has become too bureaucratic, too Book-bound, too busy, too churchy, too greedy, too noisy, too self-important, overbearing and self-protecting – none too keen at all on the thought of taking up a cross.

So we need to have a rethink, an annual Advent – or “coming” – rethink, about incarnation, about being in the flesh, about living this human life.

Come on, come on, come on Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity! Sleepers wake! – the watch-cry pealeth. Loudly.

Hark! Ding-dong merrily! Let’s shift ourselves and get headed to the House of Provision.

Let’s be on the way by way of a Silent Night to a plainly human, holy, communion, a plainly Real Emmanuel, God-with-all-of-us in strife-torn and weary – but still so very, searingly, present – Little Town of Beit Lehem.

Let provision for all – let provision for Christ-children born in poverty everywhere – be our prayer.

Reader, bless me, if you will, by staying right where you are, just for a few quiet minutes. Be aware of the breath in you. Close your eyes and listen to this prayer – the offering of a woman and a man – the prayer of children all over the world …

Let this be our prayer

FIRST COMMUNIONS

SUNDAY AFTERNOON will be a special time in Bramhall Parish Church when some of our brightest and best, well prepared and excited, make their first holy communions. They’re an imaginative and special bunch of youngsters whose thinking, conversation and learning about the stuff of faith has taken them and me “Somewhere Deep” and they’re all a great joy to have around the place. They, together with their catechists and parish priest, warmly invite you to celebrate with them at 3.30pm on Sunday 20th November 2011 – with High Tea in the Hall after the Eucharist. Do come and encourage them. And be encouraged!

HOSPITALITY’S COMMUNION

I’M VERY MUCH TOUCHED tonight. Earlier today I baptised one of Stephen & Joanna’s lovely daughters. It was a joyful occasion, the second such family baptism I’d celebrated with them in recent years. The little candidate had a lovely time. Gorgeous, in a most beautiful white dress, she toddled about the church, sometimes appearing to be deep in prayer as she knelt at the communion rail. Sometimes looking intent, like one of our housekeepers. And all this set in the context of the Eucharist. Baptism and Eucharist, the two great sacraments of belonging. These make for celebration indeed. A holy communion between souls and the Heart – the Life – of God.

And then they headed off to “wet the baby’s head” in that other most important and time-honoured tradition. I wasn’t able to join them for that bit. But if hospitality’s communion had been celebrated in the church in the morning so, too, is hospitality’s communion to be celebrated here in the vicarage in the evening because, bless their hearts, a knock on the door mid-afternoon signalled the sharing of a marvellous and extraordinary gift – the wherewithal for a simply sumptuous 3 course supper, lovingly prepared and shared, and including Joanna’s fabulous home-baked cakes pictured above. This is holy communion indeed. The Lord Jesus, I believe, would smile and smile again upon such a sight and such a gift. Holy communion. In the morning and in the evening. I can almost here him asking “d’ya get it?” … Stephen and Joanna do.

Many, many, many thanks 🙂

WINDSAILS WITH WENDY

GREAT TODAY to have artist Wendy Rudd with us for the installation of her fabulously peaceful Windsails in our Lantern Tower. As with most artworks there’s a story behind this one. We hope that many will enjoy learning their story and a blessed time of peace, quiet and reflective meditation. The gentle, silent movement of the Windsails draws and leads willing souls into just such blessedness. Bramhall Parish Church is open on weekdays from 9-12 (join us for Wednesday Eucharist & Coffee afterwards at 10.30am?) & on Sunday mornings from 8am – 12.30. All welcome.

GO TENDERLY

A NINETY YEAR OLD LADY gazed tenderly straight into my eyes this morning – others too, of both sexes, and of all ages. Communion. Connectedness. Shared vocation. Eucharist. And I was so, so glad that I’m not the pastor of one of those Cathedrals (in Maggi’s “April Fool” – thank God!) planning to up their charges – even to those arriving for worship, to around £15 a visit. For, as Maggi suggests, there’s a note of truth to be heard in the voice of the Fool, and for all that I love churches and cathedrals, some of them with a passion, it’s time to take stock, and perhaps to have a rethink.

There’s a movement in the Church, right here in England, that’s pure madness. Paying the “parish share” to keep stones in place produces a stream of interminable “action plans” that are draining the Church of her proper essence and energy, both of these vitally necessary for her proper, mothering, task – shaping “living temples to God’s glory”. Something of the ancient edifice is going to have to give way, in this 21st century, to the saner voice of God’s Spirit within. “Hush the noise”, she whispers, “and hear the angels sing.”

What, and Who is the Church for?

Cynthia Bourgeault writes movingly in Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God, of a brief encounter in New York, in 1973, with Brother Roger of Taizé:

So moved was I by his beautiful, simple words of prayer that at the end of his talk, in spite of myself, I found myself joining the throng swelling forward to meet him.

As the wave of people carried me steadily toward him, my panic increased. What would I say when I actually got there? Would I try to tell him all about myself in thirty seconds? Or the opposite – would I just stand there flustered and tongue-tied, wasting his time?

The line lurched forward and I was suddenly dumped into his presence. And there something happened that I would never have expected, and that changed my life forever. He simply looked at me, his beautifully gentle blue eyes right on me, and asked with tenderness, “What is your name?”

“Cynthia”, I said.

“Oh, it is a lovely name,” he said, and he looked deeply into me and through me into depths I never even knew were there. For the next thirty seconds, I had his full attention – perhaps the first time this had ever happened to me in my life, the first time I had ever experienced what it means to be unconditionally loved. I left that encounter with my heart overflowing with hope; by the following year I was baptized. And it was nothing he said – just the power of the way he was present, his complete transparency to love. The Community of Taizé may be a miracle, but there is no secret behind the miracle: in the heart of its founder, deep prayer and compassionate action have become fused as one.

What, and Who is the Church for?

Deep prayer and compassionate action, tenderness for the whole world, in the pastorate, the priesthood, of a humane humanity. The one defines the other.

Roger lived and loved like Jesus, who required no church or cathedral. Like Jesus, who spent more time encouraging people to slow down, and to take peace into homes and villages, than in encouraging religious people to run faster (and/or more expensively, with new-every-morning-novelty, and louder).  Like Jesus, who – like Brother Roger – made no charge. How, anyway, could I attach a price to the tender gaze, this morning, in Eucharist, of a ninety year old lady? Better to gaze gratefully – eucharistically – back. Or to put it another way, and wondrously quietly, to contemplate. God help us go tenderly.