It is the season of last things. There are final papers, final presentations, final grades and gatherings; cake and cookies and the obligatory red punch of all ministry meaningful and otherwise, laughter and the blessed goodness of a long exhale.
I look across the chapel in the School of Theology, a holy place, an altar in my own pilgrimage, a place where I heard God and the place where I found my own voice, the place which is home now to our graduates stuffed into the hard wooden pews of the first four rows. Light pours in through the stain glassed windows and dances on the golden tassels and the deep scarlet, the bold, velvet fiber of theology.
I have been thinking about the state of the church lately, about my own relationship to the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic faith, and my relationship to the church tradition in which I have been raised and nurtured for the whole of my life. I have been thinking about all those Sunday mornings sleep still in our eyes, a Merle Haggard song playing on the 8 track, my dad driving my sister and me to the little Church of God in Hermitage, Tennessee where he himself had worshipped as a boy.
Sunday afternoon, windows open, birds singing, lawn mowers humming outside, a lilac breeze reminds me I am alive and life is good. I rest and my thoughts ramble. I recount the crazy hours of this week past; a quick trip south to dye Easter Eggs and squeeze precious moments out of this life as my sister’s children grow into their double digit years. Manicures, shopping, Wii golf and other beloved rituals that can only be entrusted to an auntie crushed and rendered powerless to the reign of love. Back to Indiana for Sunday to celebrate the resurrection and to share ham and chocolate ice cream cake with more nieces all ruffles and bows.
Let me be clear, I am not some super Christian. Most days I love God and I believe God loves me. I understand my call in this world to love others the way God has loved me, simple in theory, harder in practice. For more than a decade now, I have observed Lent. I have received and administered the ashes a hundred times or more, I have read the 51 Psalm and I have abstained from some pleasure in attempt to walk closer to Christ in his own suffering. Before you think me too holy, know that most years I abstain from chocolate or sweets as my Lenten offering so as to kill two birds with one stone.
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