fake it until it makes you

– the point of liturgy.

I’ve heard worship in the Episcopal Church described as a method of “fake it till you make it.”  I think this is close to right.  There’s no requirement or expectation that a person will come every Sunday or walk through the church door and feeling something every single time; there’s no lofty ambition that every attendee will be bowled over by the mystical mind-body-soul connection and the deep meaning of what their bodies and voices are doing during the service. But there is a sort of trust that something profound and shaping is going on at an almost-imperceptible level when our voices are saying the psalms and when our bodies are bowing and folding our hands.

However, unlike the popular adage, it’s not about our own effort, or our feelings about the experience, or even about our own experience of the moments at all.

When learning to cook something new, or trying a new cleaning method for the bathtub, or working on a new regimen for exercise, the steps are clumsy and take a long time and feel foreign and unproductive.  It’s frustrating and unfamiliar–sometimes we even give up, trying this new thing, because it feels so totally useless.  Think of all the things you’ve tried, and worked for, and gained proficiency in, though–these have become second-nature.  Maybe it’s cooking eggs, or swiffering the entire house in just a few minutes, but these things have had a real impact on your everyday life as they were practiced.  They made you into a person who was a master omelette-maker, or a whiz with dusting. These skills might even prove useful in other realms of life, giving you an edge when volunteering in the soup kitchen or providing a subject of conversation when seated next to a fellow shedding-dog-owner.

How much more do we hope and intend for daily Scripture reading and repeated meditation on psalms to change the way we understand the world around us, make us more attentive to the God revealed in Scripture, realign our habits and instincts to be centered around the God who came to be with us.

What a comfort to trust that it’s not up to me to “make it,” but to show up, as willing as I can be–and sometimes it’s not willing at all–for the sake of being trained, habituated, realigned toward Hope.

Drugs and the Power of Darkness

A message of hope in the darkness, offered articulately by my colleague the Rev. Canon Dane Boston.

That Blessed Dependancy

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” -Colossians 1:9-14

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Nature as a Metaphor

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This week, the Daily Office Lectionary (the schedule that takes pray-ers and read-ers through most of the Bible in the course of two years, found in the back of any Book of Common Prayer, and online in various locations, like this) has been taking us through Isaiah.  This prophet’s words are major faves for Messianic imagery and promise–Isaiah’s are the words ones Jesus quotes most during his ministry as recorded in the Gospels.  They’ve been fertilizing my heart the last few weeks (and months–in our women’s Bible Study); here are a few thoughts on two verses from Isaiah 43, part of the Lectionary’s reading in the last week.

“When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

We have, we do, we will face rivers and fires–storms of relationships and financial stability and physical/mental health–there is no promise God ever makes that we will be shielded or that we can avoid trials and pain in our lives.  The promise made to us here is that when we face pain and trials, because we will, we won’t be drowned or choked or suffocated or burned or consumed–we won’t be killed.  When we face pain, we have an opportunity to grow and learn and to become stronger through the trouble we’re encountering.  If we stick stubbornly to God, like a burr on a dog’s coat, our trials become moments that we can learn trust, and we can come out the other side stronger and happier and closer to God than before.IMG_2303

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

We don’t experience much physical wilderness in our day & age–there aren’t any places on the earth that haven’t at least been mapped, if not overrun with people and paths and conveniences (especially in the US)–but perhaps you can imagine what it might be like to stand on the edge of a desert, or at the end of the road leading into the nature preserve (if that’s the closest we can imagine to “wilderness”!), and try to conceive a way through the uncharted space to wherever it is we’re supposed to go.  Even if it’s like a park, and there are paths running through this “wilderness,” such ready-made paths never seem to go quite the right direction.  Though we face areas of wilderness in our lives–relationships that are stuck and have no clear direction out of the mud, medical or financial or other problems that have only walls and uncertainty–God will guide your path (the one for just you–not a pre-made, well-worn path, perhaps).

a truth about relationships

I’m speaking broadly here–not specifically about marriage or romance, which is what immediately pops to my mind when i hear (or read) the word “relationship”–just any level of intimacy with another person, or even with some animals, I’d argue, but that’s another discussion.  The truth which dawned on me today, at a totally unremarkable moment, is that though I may wish and hope and even pray for a relationship to be what it once was, once a relationship is changed, it is never the same again.  Now that I’ve written it, it looks like a simple redundancy.  Duh–once something is changed, it is never the same again.

I’ve been mourning changed relationships.  Ones that used to be close, and i’m not sure why they’re not close anymore–phone calls just stopped being answered one month, and then invitations for dinner were demurred, and now the “relationship” is reduced to (probably one-sided) facebook stalking.  Others ruptured somewhat dramatically, over life choices, and for whatever reason, haven’t recovered.  I keep praying and hoping and wishing and plotting for a recovery.  Today I realized that though “recovery” in the medical sense might be possible (because medically, no matter what happens to you, you’re never quite the same again–heart surgery, serious illness, whatever–your body has scars and adjustments), but a restoration isn’t ever possible, at least this side of Glory (right.  “this side of Glory”, whatever that means–also for another post).

A changed, ruptured, cooled relationship can of course come to a new “better” or at least “different” place, but hoping to get back what has been lost is just sentencing oneself to disappointment.

Therefore.  let us hope & pray for restoration in Christ, and hope & pray for recovery and renovation in our hearts & relationships.