April 30th, 2009

i do it for the joy it brings

// Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope, where you can rest and wait. //

Last Monday, I said, "This really feels like a spiritual practice... being with people in their pain."

My mother said, as she has said before,
That is one of my dominant spiritual practices -- tho I don't generally think of it as a "practice" exactly. I think of it as standing on holy ground doing sacred work.

I think it is the most precious work you can ever do.
This past Sunday, Laura Ruth preached "Walking With You Is My Prayer." She had been back just a few days, having spent over a week in Ontario vigiling with her partner Meck as Meck's father neared death, and Meck remained in Ontario as her father remained. The Scripture text was the Road to Emmaus.

I read the text of the sermon on Wednesday. Girl can preach. One thing I was really impressed by in her sermon was her raw, honest, listing of so many different kinds of Good Friday places we can experience. Anyway, excerpt:
What in God’s name do we do after catastrophe? What do we do after we have held our breath, after we wail with grief and misery, after we condemn ourselves for what we could have done or left undone, should have done or not done, but didn’t. After we blame, and point fingers, after we plot about how to get even, or after we drug ourselves with our usual substances and distractions? In that void that comes after that last breath, what do we do?

What do we do?

We walk.

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It doesn’t matter if we believe a little or if we believe a lot. What matters is the practice of walking in community, noticing the arrival, perceiving the constant availability of the divine.
Beginning at tonight's Rest and Bread Service, we're back to our pre-Lenten service, of scripture, reflection, communion, and singing "Abide With Me." We hope you will come and fall into that familiar place that allows deep prayer and meditation.

Also beginning tonight, Keith and I will center our reflections on the biographies and witness of people in the Bible. Tonight, we will breathe into Jonah and his story.
When I got that email that morning, I thought, "I have missed Rest and Bread!" even though I only missed last week; I suspect what I really mean is, "I have missed Laura Ruth!"

I hugged her a LOT.

After service she said I seemed really good. Part of me was amused because the one time that I responded to "How are you?" with, "I've been better," she looked like horrified, so my sense is that she thinks of me as always being good (which I usually am, plus the contexts in which I see her make me happy), but I was really feeling bubbling over joyful. I dunno if it's 'cause I'm at the end of my period or if I just needed to recoup from [redacted v. Holy Saturday] or just what, but I'll definitely take this.


Psalm 104:24-35
Chapters 1-2 of the Book of Jonah

Listening to the story being read, one of the things that struck me was that Jonah went downstairs in boat and fell asleep -- because recently in SCBC we had a session on Jesus calming the storm. I was also struck by the fact that Jonah asks them to throw him overboard -- which is this big deal (they pray to Jonah's God to forgive them for shedding innocent blood) and I wonder why he didn't just jump overboard himself (possibly it's metaphorical about how we can know what the right thing to do is but can't bring ourselves to actually do it).

In her Reflection, Laura Ruth mentioned Baghdad when talking about Nineveh, which wiki suggests is not exactly true, but it just something she mentioned in passing and it is true that it's in modern-day Iraq.
She said that midrash says that the people in the boat dipped Jonah in to the water slowly and as they did the storm got progressively calmer so they knew they were doing the right thing. Midrash is awesome :)
She commented that Jonah is from same place as Jesus (Gath-hepher is near Nazareth) and both spent 3 days in an enclosed space... I rolled my eyes.
She commented that this is the story that's read on Yom Kippur -- which I had either not realized or had forgotten.
She invited us to reflect on times when we run away from where God is calling us to go. I appreciated her map, where she's like, "Here's Jonah, here's Nineveh [a couple inches northeast], here's Tarshish [a couple inches west]."

I was struck by Jenny's prayers during Prayers of the People:
"All those affected by the new flu virus and those who live in fear because of it."
"All the people I've seen on the streets recently asking for money who aren't the regulars -- and for the regulars, too."


Earlier that day, musesfool had posted:
Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
-Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life's ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

Jason and I went to Highland Kitchen [yelp] for dinner.

I considered getting a Mai Tai Dragon (Sailor Jerry Rum, orange Curaçcao, almond syrup and lime juice) but opted instead to get a Dorchester (vodka, triple sec, pink lemonade). It mostly tasted like vodka, which I suppose I should not be surprised by.

I ordered the vegetarian lasagna (which, contrary to the online menu -- which is on a myspace page, wtf? -- is not a butternut squash lasagna) which was good (though I'm not certain it was $16 good) though I would barely know because I was talking nonstop for a large portion of dinner. I am not used to the getting-to-know-you game and am bad at coming up with questions to ask people, but I enjoy talking about myself at great length :)

We got the banana bread pudding for dessert, which was also good.

I was surprised at how full the restaurant was for a Wednesday night (though at Jason's request we got a booth, which was much nicer than a two-person table would have been) and learned how much a cab is from there to my house ('cause it would have been like a 40-minute walk or 2 busses).

And I went to bed later than is optimal for me given when I get up in the morning, but I am okay with that.