Monday, June 18, 2012

June 17, 2012 - Reflection by David, Celebrating our Graduates


Wasn't it William Shakespeare who said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances..." This is a line from As You Like It and it was spoken by a melancholic character named Jaques.
Many wise philosophers have written about our lives as actors in the divine drama of life. We all have a part to play and the overall fabric of the act or the play is diminished when our parts are diminished in any way. The whole play hinges on all of us playing our roles to the fullest, all of us contributing to the drama of justice, to the action of peace, to the creation of freedom.
In the Medieval Church, much of worship was in the form of drama, which many people couldn't understand, and during the Pentecost worship services, the following would occur:
The custom of painting heavenly scenes on the great domed and vaulted ceilings of cathedrals served not only to inspire the devout with blessed visions. It also disguised some discreet trap doors. These small openings were drilled through the cathedral ceiling to the rooftop. During the Pentecost worship service, some hapless servants would be drafted to clamber up on the roof. At the appropriate moment during the liturgy, they would release live doves through these holes. From out of the painted skies and clouds on the cathedral ceiling, swooping, diving symbols of a vitally present Holy Spirit would descend toward the people below. At the same moment, the choirboys would break into the whooshing and drumming sound of a holy windstorm. Finally, as the doves were flying and the winds were rushing, the ceiling holes would once again be utilized -- as bushels upon bushels of rose petals were showered down upon the congregation. These red, flickering bits of flowers symbolized tongues of flame falling upon all who waited below in faith. They called these openings to the sky in medieval churches "Holy Spirit holes."
What a neat idea, these "holy Spirit holes." And we thought medieval churches would be dull and the life of medieval congregations boring! These holes provide an interesting image for us to think about life unfolding, not just for graduates but for us all—for life is always unfolding and we are always becoming. When I think of holy Spirit holes with respect to the drama of life and the drama of each of our lives, I think of how the Spirit bursts in upon us and introduces a moment of chaos into the drama of life so that a new learning can take place, so that we can continue the journey of our becoming and life unfolding.
Holes exist in the drama of life wherever a child does not grow to his or her potential, and there are many places in our world where infant mortality rates are still very high. When girls and women are treated as second class citizens or are abused and raped as a means of oppressing people, holes in the drama of life need the Holy Spirit. When people are forced to flee from their homes because political forces beyond their control deem them superfluous, holes appear in the drama of life and the Holy Spirit is needed. When countries put up barriers for people to come to start a new life and refugees are forced to live in camps for years and sometimes generations, the Holy Spirit needs to fly through these holes in the drama of life. When children and young people are bullied by others for not being cool or not fitting in, there is a hole in the fabric of our living and the Holy Spirit flies through. When the environment is in danger of collapsing because of our unrepentant exploitation of the earth's resources and the over abundant creation of pollution and green-house gases, a hole appears in the drama of life and the Holy Spirit is needed to fly through. There are many Holy Spirit holes in the drama of life.
And as the Spirit flies through the holes of life, she lands upon us, disturbs our lives and calls us to respond with others in creating a new drama, in re-writing the great play into something new and vibrant where all of life flourishes and prospers. Jesus alluded to this in his parables about farming and about the mustard seed. The Spirit takes what is small and seemingly insignificant and makes it bigger and life-giving. We, who are small, are like those mustard seeds, but when we band together, when we stand with one another in solidarity, we become a mighty people capable of changing the world, capable of mending the holes in the lives of people, communities and the environment. It sometimes takes patience as in the case of Nelson Mandela, who languished years in political imprisonment until he rose to power in South Africa; or think of Ms. Suu Kyi of Burma, who accepted her Nobel Peace prize that was awarded years ago. The Holy Spirit brings new learnings, but sometimes we need to have patience as the spiritual work of creating life takes time.
Wendell Berry, the environmental poet, who wrote in a forward to a book by Norman Wirzba called Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight, has shown the holes created by this modern industrial complex in which we live, holes again for the Holy Spirit to come among us. He wrote:
The industrial era at climax...has imposed on us all its ideals of ceaseless pandemonium. The industrial economy, by definition, must never rest....There is no such thing as enough. Our bellies and our wallets must become oceanic, and still they will not be full. Six workdays in a week are not enough. We need a seventh. We need an eighth.... Everybody is weary, and there is no rest.... Or there is none unless we adopt the paradoxical and radical expedient of just stopping.
The spirit flies in and calls us to rest, to stop, to heal, to know peace. The image of Holy Spirit holes is not just a church image for the Spirit does not belong to the church; it is an image that exists for all life. Where will the Holy Spirit break into the holes in our lives and where will we be led in our becoming? Where will your life take you in the years to come, you who are new graduates and all of us who perhaps feel a little tattered around the edges and somewhat worn out? What Holy Spirit holes will we encounter in the years to come? What will our children and our children's children say about the lives we lead and live today? If we stand together as Spirit-led people, we will find the energy and the courage to mend the holes and work with the Spirit to ensure that God's love will be known and celebrated in every life and in all life. We can stop and rest, be renewed and welcome and be welcomed by others as we create new directions and find the wings to fly with the Spirit in creating life and hope in our world.
May it be so, dear God, may it be so. For our graduates and all of us.
Amen

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