Southpoint News – Week of March 31st, 2019
Vision: A Recap
Today I went to the beach with Johanna, who is home on spring break. We were both feeling a bit anxious in the face of the bigness, beauty, and messiness of life. Listening to an inner impulse, we decided to skip the gym and head for the beach. We walked arm in arm along the water’s edge, laughing together as we so often do, gathering pussy willows and the first magnolia blossoms. Johanna noticed they looked like the feathers of a frizzle chicken. I pulled off the pussy willows and tossed them at her head. As the sun was setting, we ran home and pulled Craig and Adam away from their devices. We drove down to the beach to catch the setting sun. A train went by, blocking our view. When it passed, the sun had slipped behind the clouds, casting off pink purple hues. Adam balanced one lone cloud on his fingertip. Craig took pictures of the ripples in the sand. We all drove home to our responsibilities, lighter inside. Such is the gift of sacred site.
We are half way through Lent.
What have you seen on your vision quest in the wilderness?
Are you wondering where we have come from?
Where we are going?
Let me recap the journey thus far.
We sat with Jesus and Moses in the wilderness. In a bleak and barren landscape devoid of hope, we looked at reality through the lens of their prophetic imaginations. Moses taught us to see into the future. Fixing his eyes on a hope yet unseen, he imagined the future landscape as God-soaked, inviting us to see what lies before us with eyes of faith rather than eyes of fear. Jesus, while in the wilderness, taught us to see the present. Fixing his eyes on a reality yet unseen, he imagined the present landscape as God-soaked. Jesus invited us to see the barrenness right in front of us with eyes of faith rather than fear.
An example of this kind of seeing is the liturgy of sacred sight practiced by Mile High Ministry in Denver. In a city well acquainted with grief, an informal network of friends gather when someone dies violently in their neighborhood to practice seeing life in places haunted by death. Daring to speak of God’s presence in the seemingly godforsaken corners of the city, they touch the blood spattered walls and pray. The liturgy begins with these words, “Grace and peace to all of us in the name of our Loving God. This space that was traumatized by senseless violence, we reclaim as a place of life, community, and hope.” It finishes with a recommitment to labor for a future yet unseen, “We commit ourselves to building community that is humane, compassionate, just, and filled with dignity.”
During this week, you were invited to scan your wilderness for signs of goodness. These small glimpses remind us we live in a God-soaked world. They give us courage to continue laboring for a future yet unseen.
We sat with Abram in the wilderness. In a bleak and barren landscape devoid of an heir, we saw Abram trust God enough to lament and wrestle with God. We heard Abram’s raw, honest questioning. In return, we heard God promise Abram a future that held both sorrow and joy, sharp as swords, but a future where joy would have the final say. We were invited into a relationship wth God that made room for our lamentations and our wrestling as part of faith.
Part of what I named and lamented during week 2 was the way scriptures, particularly the OT archetype of “promised land”, have been used to justify the misuse of power. Frank Kovarik, an Ignatian priest writing for Ignatian Solidarity Network, sums up my lamentation and my hope:
“We are broken people living in a broken world, so it should not be surprising that our Scriptural exegesis is often broken, too. Passages…have been misused to justify subjugation, enslavement, and exploitation, and as license to see power and wealth as signs of God’s favor….Yet Jesus repairs this brokenness, reminding us that earthly status is not the true measure of God’s favor… And what are God’s commandments, simplified and fulfilled by Jesus? To love God above all and to love one’s neighbor as oneself: commandments which endure as unbending rebukes to all domination and exploitation, and which hold out to the brokenhearted the Easter promise of rebirth.”
During this week, you were invited to scan your wilderness for sights that make you lament.
Our lamentations are an act of faith that God wants an honest relationship with us, and that God sees, cares, and is moving within the broken places of our world.
This past week, we sat in the wilderness, and this time WE became the object of our observations. We heard God ask, “Why do you labor on things that don’t satisfy you?” “Why do you spend money on things that don’t fill you up when you can come and buy milk and wine for free?” These questions hold such power: Why indeed do we invest so much of our resources in rhythms of life that erode us rather than fill us? Why IS it so hard to wrestle oneself away from the computer, the gym, the stove, or the phone, simply to go out and stand in the light of the setting sun?
Even the most noble things, when out of balance, can become our slave driver. Say you, like me, are a highly ethical person with a strong sense of responsibility and a desire to labor for good in the world. Say you, like me, have a tendency to neglect your own wellbeing in your service to the world. Then I invite you to wrestle with the possibility that we are both slightly addicted to the works of our hands. Our labor is not the culprit. Our relationship to our labor is the problem. When we no longer have the internal freedom to step away and be rejuvenated by delight, beauty, and goodness, we cannot experiencing the abundance of God at the heart of all things.
Richard Rohr summarized it this way, “As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. Separation from God, self, and others was a deep and tragic illusion. As we grow into deeper connection and union, the things that once brought meaning and happiness to our small self no longer satisfy us. We tried to create artificial fullness through many kinds of addictive behavior, but still feel empty and nothing, if we are honest. We need much more nutritious food to feed our Bigger Self; mere entertainments, time-fillers, diversions, and distractions will no longer work.” Even our work can become a diversion.
This week, write down what you observe in yourself:
your fluctuations of emotions,
your thirsts for life,
your thirsts for things that rob you of life.
What small gesture or action brought about a release of peace, calm, or delight in you? Left you feeling more attuned and connected to God, a bit more whole?
What activities and engagements made you feel cramped, trapped and diminished? Made you feel disconnected – from God, yourself, other people – and feeling fragmented?
Have you become your own slave driver, always pushing yourself to do the next right thing? Has something else become your slave driver – a substance, a person, a device?
How might you make room for the things that fill you and refresh you?
As you proceed into these final weeks of Lent, offer all that you are observing to God in faith. God sees you. Intimately, lovingly, and clearly. God sees when you are moved by delight and by sorrow. God sees your fears and faith for the future. God sees what you see, and God sees what you can’t yet see. It takes courage to see clearly. As you participate in the liturgy of sacred sight, imagine that you are tucked in tight under the shadow of God’s wings. You are not alone.
Roots is a space for youth and young adults to go deeper. Deeper into God. Deeper into Friendship. Deeper into one’s self. Every Monday night @ 8;30, Anne and Craig’s home. This Monday we will be discussing Chapter 2, Searching for Sunday. Popcorn and tea always on tap. Gifts of munchies always welcome.
Support Indigenous Human Rights:
Vancouver for Bill C-262
Join us as we rally support for Indigenous Human Rights. Join representatives from various faith traditions who will express their commitment to this Bill.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called Canada to adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as “the framework for reconciliation” (Call to Action #43). Bill C-262 will ensure that Canada’s laws are in harmony with the Declaration. 262 is in the Senate and it needs to get through committee and to 3rd vote in the next few months or it will not achieve royal assent. Please come out, grab your friends, invite your community and show your support for Bill C-262!
WHEN AND WHERE:
April 6th, 2019 at 1-3 pm at 700 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC (CBC Building)
Lent 2019 – “VISION”
*the faculty or state of being able to see.
*the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Is. 43: 9
Week 4: Sunday, March 31st – “Spotting Transformation” – Anne preaching
“Some people have wide eyes for abundance intuitively; others of us come resisting, struggling, squinting. We exercise our faith by practicing gratitude.” – Scott Dewey
Week 5: Sunday, April 7 – “The Sight for Sore Eyes”– Anne preaching
“With abundance-liberated vision, we can risk. We can risk rest, in the face of pressing need. We can risk and audacious plan, with our credibility at stake, amid fears it might be our only shot. We can risk great sorrow, trusting we’ll be held. We can risk your delight, trusting its own worthiness, and the worthiness of the world to share in it. W can risk a painful path of healing from whatever has us in its grip. We can risk a hard conversation, or a joke that might work if the timing’s right. We can risk a song.” – Scott Dewey
Week 6: Palm Sunday, April 14th – “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” – Anne preaching
“Prompted by holy curiosity, we’re sure to discover there’s always more to the story.” – Ryan Taylor
April 15th – April 20: HOLY WEEK (Stay tuned for Holy Week schedule)
If our vision had cleared a bit in lent, it is about to be scattered, distorted, and lost in Holy Week. But this takes us way back to the beginning of what we learned in the wilderness: “Things aren’t always what they seem”.
April 19, Good Friday: “Darkness re-presents us with the reality that we cannot see everything. Let alone control most events, people, and situations…Learning to trust in the dark, we trust that God is moving in all the places that we cannot see or manage.”
You are invited to drop by and walk through the Stations of the Cross @ Kingfisher Farm on Good Friday between 10-2. The stations are scattered through the woods and property of Kingfisher Farm. It is a meaningful and accessible way, particularly for children, to experience with our bodies and hearts the story of Jesus’ death. Walking this journey with Jesus opens us up to a greater awareness his love for us, and opens us up to a greater compassion for our God who suffers with us, and for the suffering of our world. Walking the stations of the cross is a chance to practice faith-filled seeing.
April 21, Easter Sunday: “Beyond Our Wildest Imagination” – Anne preaching
“May the resurrection be experienced here today, as enemies are moved toward reconciliation, exclusion becomes embrace, and as voices of criticism and hate are transformed into encouragement.” – from the Liturgy of Sacred Sight
Bring a handful of flowers with you and a celebratory treat to share. We’ll decorate the cross with our flowers and feast on food and sunlight. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Have an Announcement?
If you have an addition you would like included in this newsletter, please send a prepared announcement as you would like it to appear to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday and we will get back to you.
If you have a need for prayer that you would like to pass on to the prayer chain, please contact John Hardy.