Friday, August 1, 2008

The twists and turns

I have been wondering how to characterize the last two days. Then yesterday I attended the blessing of the new labyrinth of the University of Kent. It is a beautiful labyrinth, and I found myself thinking about all the twists and turns life takes. I had a conversation with Gene Robinson (finally), and found myself admiring him for his courage to stand up and be himself, saying “I am the man” at the eye of the storm (as his book title has it). He has suffered a lot of criticism. Many people have sniffed that he is a “publicity hog” and opined he isn’t doing the gay cause any good. Yet as were reminded at the sermon at out opening Eucharist: "Social justice is monotonous." It requires tenacity, and in our world today, sophistication with the media. His photo was put into the guard booth at Canterbury Cathedral so if he were to try and get into the opening service he would be recognized and stopped. He is forbidden to meet with people at Lambeth except in pre-arranged venues. It makes me feel sick to my stomach that the Church feels it has to take such measures.

In general the approach to the media has been that they are the enemy. I can understand providing a safe place for the bishops, but there seems to be a profound distrust, and this is only exacerbating the negative coverage the Lambeth Conference seems to be getting, at least in the British newspapers.

Later on Thursday I attended a Healing of Memories workshop lead by Michael Lapsley. He is the director of the Institute for Healing of memories in Capetown, South Africa. Michael is an Anglican religious (provincial minister of the South African province of the Society of Sacred Mission –SSM). During the apartheid struggle he lost both of his hands when he opened a letter bomb. His story of his move from victim to victor is incredibly moving. He has taken his experience and turned it to gold, helping others to heal their memories and find freedom. Basically he operates on the principle that stories can heal. Even in our brief workshop we told a few stories. I know that in the bishops’ “indaba” groups, people are telling stories. But not all stories will be finished by the time we leave on Monday; I will need to process much of this when there is time…my next airplane ride!

But then at the reception held by the Bishops of the province of Papua New Guinea, we were all invited to stand and sing one of my favorite choruses: “We are one big, happy family, God’s family are we: she is my sister, he is my brother and God is our Father who loves you and me.”

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