Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Post from Canterbury

I arrived in Canterbury almost the same day the Archbishop of Canterbury's invitation to the Primates went out, and the articles started appearing in the newspapers about the different “sleeping arrangements” for the partners in the Anglican Communion.

No crowds hit the streets, no tear gas, nothing happened.

Actually I think there was a sigh of relief.

Certainly I felt relief. The Archbishop's comments seemed honest, grounded in reality and compassion. It seems to be the true expression of the prayer that all might be free of hatred and strife. With the burden of having to accept the theological differences of the other provinces removed, or the fear of taint, different churches and groups within the different national churches can pick up the pace in working together to fight poverty, to work for the healing of the planet, to work to bring peace in the war-torn places of the earth.

Of course I might be jumping the gun here, we'll have to see what comes out of the Primate's meeting next year.

I also feel sadness. We have not been able to work through our differences. They are irreconcilable.

And yet the determination of the fact of our real and lasting differences has brought us full circle--perhaps to a new beginning. Letting go of the past will require great courage. We can let go of a colonial past and work to create a Christian witness in the world. Collaborating where it is possible. It will take time to discover how we can best help each other. Actually there has been collaboration among the different churches all along, even the ones who disagree most vociferously. People have travelled back and forth, resources shared. Sometimes aid had to go through the back door, but helping people as Christians has remained a foundational idea. Now perhaps the toxic cloud of rhetoric can lift so that the beauty of what already happens and could happen to a greater extent in all places, can be celebrated.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this big story is to ask myself where this story is reflected in my story. We do not have to read the news just for information about outside events most of us have little or nothing to do with in a daily way. When we approach the world with a contemplative eye and a renewed heart, we can take the news story as an entry into our own story. Thus: what might I need to let go of to find health and hope? A new start?

This is how the proposal to sell Little Portion was framed for Chapter members: “What are you willing to let go of for the good of the order?” After an agonized silence I said I’d be willing to let go of Little Portion. I was to shed many tears about that later, and now I am waiting to see what good might come out of it for me and for the Order. Already we are grateful the buildings are being used in a way that continues some of our most treasured values, caring for young people struggling with addiction and/or who need a new start. But beyond this, what will be the gift for us re-grouping in California? I believe with all might heart good will come out of it for my brothers, for me. But what that might be, I am not sure.

For this time of discovery and discernment I remind myself of my power to say “yes” to what might happen (I keep saying this, over and over!). I am not helpless, I have skills and saying “yes” gives me an edge over the naysayers—in the other parts of my mind and around the table—it’s about having a fundamentally positive outlook on life and trust that what is unimaginable is not necessarily the worst case scenario.

Faith, patience, and courage. Trusting in that which is unseen, which is hope.

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