Today we talked about what we would tell Jesus, if he came to us on this Red Road and asked how we are, what we’ve up to, what we’ve been doing and talking about.
Today we talked about welcoming them in, we talked about seeing the face of Christ in the least of these, in the poor, in refugee children, in the middle class. We talked about all of the people that we discard. How, in doing that, we are casting away not only Christ Himself in human form, in smelly form, homeless form, hungry form, but also pushing away the kingdom of God that we are charged, all of us, to realize.
I felt like, for once, I had a good answer for that question; what I’ve been doing, talking about, up to on this Red Road with my fellow travelers.
Today I was home, in my town, with my people. I served communion wine with my dad after my brother invoked the Holy Spirit. Today my stepmother sat at the other end of the soprano line and we raised our voices together, grow in love and love by serving, joyful and free.
Today my mother and stepfather sat in the front rows with my littlest sisters, with my daughters.
It’s often a topic of conversation at my house, what will I do when it isn’t this way anymore? When we are longer together? What if if my Bishop doesn’t allow me to stay in my home parish, what if he doesn’t allow me the living and breathing desire of my heart, which is to see my children grow to maturity in a place that is their home, and to begin this long journey of servant-hood with my own brother, someone in whom I place immense respect; someone who I know does it “right”?
What will we do if Jared is called to another cure? Will we slowly begin to drift away? Will Sundays like this, with the sun streaming in through the Lazarus window and my dear, dear friend directing the choir and playing the organ all at once, days when the chancel is filled with a choir that is squished together because there are so many of us? What will we do?
I’ve paused here, twined my fingers together and rested my chin on them.
The honest answer is, I am not sure.
The other honest answer is that what we are building here is everlasting.
These questions are the ones that always haunt us, what will we do when the world that we know is upended, changed?
My mother addressed this last night at the Fall Follies in a poem that she read. She spoke from the poem and addressed making friends with people in Heaven because we are sure that they will not leave us. I too have people that I love, and I cannot bear to think of them passing from me into and further into the love of God.
It was interesting to me that we had a bit of a running theme in some of our acts last night. We had Rick reading a poem by John Dunne, batter my heart, three person’d God. We had a duet about following Jesus, not understanding why he is leaving, about being willing to put a pebble in a shoe and walk along the Red Road with him.
It reminded me of a song I’ve given you all many times by Lauren O’Connell, in which she sings, O holy weight, o tremendous, radiant doubt, come blend into something that I need til I can’t pick you out.
The theme of the person of God being a pebble, a reminder, a constant distraction in what we would like to think of as our ordered and sensible lives. And we keep taking the pebble from our shoe and chucking it into the gutter, we close the portcullis though an army of angels batters against it, we hope for the person of God in our lives to become white noise, something we need but, in truth, no longer hear.
I heard today.
I heard my other mother read the prayers of the people. I heard my mother converse with one of those beloved older friends.
I heard my brother preach about how we received immigrants in a Texas town, with booing and hissing and signs that said Go Home. And how the citizens of a German town lined the streets and clapped and cheered, how they said, you can be one us, you can be safe here. You are welcome here.
I heard the many amens as I offered the blood of savior to the people to whom I belong, and who belong to me.
And I came to see that nothing lasts forever.
These idyllic days, they will pass. And I must come to terms with that, I think I almost have.
Tonight we all will gather at my father’s house, there will be splashing in the pool for what may be the last time. We will break bread together, three generations in the same room. We will give thanks for the gift of being together.
Later this week an old dog will be beside himself as his granny and his Peter come in the door, he will even chase a ball. He will stalk around the yard and allow himself to be petted. And we all know this may be the last time.
Is it bad, incorrect, to long for everlasting? For things to be always the same? For us to just sort of make camp on the Red Road? We could have such a nice tent, we could be a way station, a rest area. We could provide such wonderful food, spiritual direction, lovely songs and so much love. The love of a family in which everyone of is sure we are valued, needed, where we are sure we belong. We take people in all the time, we could keep doing that, couldn’t we?
How I wish.
The awful and beautiful truth is that only one thing is forever, and it is not any of this.
The secret is to recognize the divine when we see it, whether it is a brother consecrating the host or absolving the people, or an old dog chasing a tennis ball for a man with a Yorkshire accent. An old man (so sorry my dear, I must tell the truth) pushing us to sing better, to thread our voices together like a friendship bracelet a girl who is only eleven weaves on her bed.
Whether it is a six year old sitting on the lap of her granny, taking communion with her, full members together of the body of Christ coming to the table together. Or the host and the wine making their way among the people to nourish those who can no longer make the journey to the altar rail.
I love you still.
Casey wants to know why I am crying.