Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith, January 2017

“The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner

“… and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

There is no law against such things.”

Galatians 5:22-23

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“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient.” James 5:7-8

“So, when are you leaving?” I have been asked this question more than a few times over the past year. I am pretty sure it is asked mostly out of curiosity and not with the intent of “So, why are you STILL here?” I am pretty sure, so I will stick with this thought.

The answer is – well, I am not leaving yet! While more will be revealed as the days, weeks, and months of 2017 unfold, I can say with all surety not yet. Then I began reflecting on this month’s fruit of the spirit which is PATIENCE. Funny how that works sometimes, don’t you think? We have grown to be a not real patient people or society in our days of late. It seems all those open avenues of communications and life connections that pull and push us in directions to take action, to do something, to do anything … but what? So I find myself sucked into the centrifugal force of reacting to life and events out in a future time and place I have no control over, rather than responding out of prayerfulness, being alert to people and events around me, and dwelling in PATIENCE.

I have found the work of the diocesan Standing Committee, of which I am a member, a great reminder of how PATIENCE works when I work with it. After Bishop Wright disclosed his intention of retirement in 2017, we soon met with a representative of the national church who basically gave us THE BOOK of all that needed to be done in this process. The analogy of having our mouth taped over the spigot of a fire hose was the reigning feeling of all the members. Then, together, we mapped out a tentative timeline, and began the work of inviting others to share in the process of leadership as Search and Transition Committee members. We gathered all together in our organizing retreat to begin this work in July. Now we support the work each group is doing, waiting with PATIENCE most of the time as the work unfolds before us. While we have the date of ordination and consecration set for December 9 of this year, we are still very much waiting through the days and time in God’s way, not ours. Trusting God, trusting the process, and staying where we are in this in-between time. Waiting, we pray, in PATIENCE.

In a recent meditation entitled The Three Boxes, Fr. Richard Rohr reflects on the invitation, although sometimes uncomfortable, of moving through a time of transition and the gifts that PATIENCE brings when we are faithful to the process …

“Julian of Norwich writes, ‘First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God.’ Whenever we’re led out of normalcy into sacred, open space, it’s going to feel like suffering, because it is letting go of what we’re used to. This is always painful at some level. But part of us has to die if we are ever to grow larger (John 12:24). The role of the prophet is to lead us into sacred space by deconstructing the old space while the role of the priest is to teach us how to live fruitfully in sacred space. The prophet disconnects us from the false, and the priest reconnects us to the real at ever larger levels. If priests have been largely unsuccessful, it is because there are so few prophets.
Think in terms of what I call “the three boxes”: order > disorder > reorder. The first order, where we all begin, is a necessary first “containment.” But this structure is dangerous if we stay there too long. It is too small and self-serving. Initial “order” doesn’t really know the full picture, but it thinks it does. Only in the final “reorder” stage can darkness and light coexist, can paradox be okay. We are finally at home in the only world that ever existed. This is true and contemplative knowing. Here death is a part of life, failure is a part of victory, and imperfection is included in perfection. Opposites collide and unite; everything belongs.
We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what disorder has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. How can a Christian look at the Crucified One and not get this essential point? The Resurrected Christ is the icon of the third box or reorder.
There is no direct flight from order to reorder; you must go through disorder, which is surely why Jesus dramatically and shockingly endured it on the cross.”
From “Daily e-Meditations” by Fr. Richard Rohr; 12/6/16

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …” so writes the prophet in Ecclesiastes. We know our time together will be changing, ending in some ways but not in others. Together we can move through the Three Boxes. Together, we will move to a place and time of disorder to allow space and to see what has been, what is now, and then to reorder in the ways we will go onward. Together, might we hold before us those words in front of the journals of Dag Hammarskjold – “For all that has been, THANK YOU! For all that we be and becoming, YES!” Together, with honored and deeply held PATIENCE, Love will lead us home.

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+