Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

"...and all the blessings of this life." (From The General Thanksgiving, p. 101, Book of Common Prayer.)

This morning, I had the pleasure of enjoying "Coffee, prayer time, and wireless internet" in my sacred space in the yard, among "hide and seek" sunshine mixed with clouds and coolness, and various birds chirping in the backyard. I often close my personal prayer time with The General Thanksgiving. (Hey, that is why they call it "general"--it works for a lot of things!)

After I finished, I got to really reflecting on what all those blessings mean.

There is no doubt...I've led a "different" kind of life. I think back to a letter someone once wrote for me for the Jerry L. Pettis Scholarship (a scholarship offered by the American Medical Association, which came with the added perk of being able to attend the AMA meeting to accept it, give a tiny speech, and receive it in the presence of C. Everett Koop.) They read part of the letter when I accepted the scholarship in 1989. My "recommender" wrote: "(Kirkepiscatoid) grew up having been denied many things most of us simply take for granted, but still became an incredibly caring and compassionate person who is learning to heal others, and in the process, self-heals. In my mind, this is proof miracles happen."

(I was sooooo embarrassed at how effusive this letter writer had been, but believe me, I took it to heart!)

There is no doubt, my life has been "different." (If you are from the Midwest, you know "different" is a code word for anything from "have lived a sitcom kind of life" to "just plain weird".)

Being different is so damn painful sometimes. It creates weird “yearnings.” These yearnings make one feel sort of cheated now and then.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have not been denied those "normal" things, or for my life to have been more "normal." Then again, I think even the most "normal" of us feels that we are "different," and maybe that IS part of being "normal."

But you know, for all those things I feel now and then, I step back and think Jesus must have felt all of them, and maybe ten times, a hundred times worse than I feel them, and I don’t feel so bad.

Then I think in the other direction...all the things that probably never would have happened had I lived a “normal” life.

I would have never have developed the closeness I feel to my cousin J. and his family; I would have been too busy with my own family. I think about how our different adversities made us become closer with each other. Every time J. gets off the phone with me, he tells me “I love you.” He is the person I trust with my own life and my own affairs if I become incapacitated.

I would have never learned to love my friends in a way that is perhaps truer and deeper and more holy than I knew was possible. Sometimes I think that pain of "different" is simply because I am able to love in this unique way, and that I have an expectation that others are supposed to love me back in exactly the same way--what I call my "St. Jerome moments." St. Jerome was notorious for firing letters at his closest friends and proteges filled with (and I am paraphrasing), "I love you so damn much and soooo bend over backwards for your sorry asses and WHY CAN'T YOU LOVE ME AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOU, you ungrateful assholes?"

I would have never learned to love my church even though certain individuals at times, can drive me stark raving bonkers.

I would have never learned that there is this monastic side of me that is truly “a holy thing”...that maybe God’s plan for me is that I am such a "special character" (again, "character" is a Midwestern code word for "really neat but sorta irascible and difficult at times") that he has given me an opportunity to live this life that is so out of the ordinary, that it it is a blessing bestowed upon only a few people who are cut out to fulfill it.

When I step back and look at it in this way, I realize that there is an even bigger yearning that trumps all those other ones. I yearn to live the life that makes me closer to God in the way that only I am cut out to live it. I yearn to honestly hear what he is trying to tell me and learn to “trust the process.” I know I am still resisting that “trust the process”thing. I have a level of resistance that causes more “churning” than you’ve possibly ever seen.

I was musing via the Internet to one of my friends one day, that I found it odd that I have this little nucleus of blog-followers and Facebook friends that is "clergy-heavy," and was wondering out loud why that was. It was, of course, one of my "collared" friends. His answer was, "Watching you do what you do in your blog makes me realize non-clergy people really DO wrestle with the things I often think about, and the things I try to offer those I encounter in the day to day of my vocation. It affirms why I went into ordained ministry."

His very plain answer made me realize that what we do of our own when we seek to follow Jesus, when we undergo these numerous deaths and rebirths, can inadvertently lead to a degree of fulfillment of the deaths and rebirths of others...and in these inadvertent moments, love emerges. Love of our true and holy selves, love of God, love of others. If we purposefully tried to do it, it would fall flat on its face. It is "the ripple effect" personified.

I am struck all the time at how my blog friends (clergy and non-clergy) and Facebook friends and I seem to all be bound in an unseen way to the same liturgical calendar. We go through our Lenten struggles, our Advent anticipatory moods, and occasionally even our dental appointments together!

So many Christians look at being “born again” as a one-shot deal. I find that way of thinking so flat, so "un-dynamic." I am born again week after week at the Eucharist. I am born again in inadvertent acts of kindness. I am born again in silent time spent with a trusted friend. Maybe Jesus should have said, “You must be born again...repeatedly!”

8 comments:

I yearn to honestly hear what he is trying to tell me and learn to “trust the process.”

No doubt about it, TRUST in God, is my foundation...I´d have nothing without it...all the jumping up and down, reciting, pledging, ministering in the World would do me know good (and probably won´t be well received by others). Ultimately,the drama/sensation, denial, destractions, heroic or not, pass and I´m left heaped in a human pile exhausted from the emotional/spiritual madness that I got caught up in.

My trust in God is straighforward. I accept the Gifts of God and I know, progressively, that being responsible/accountable is Gods ¨will¨ for me (especially when I need Gods help to be responsible and accountable)...the Gift of God is the Genuine, not-so-normal (either), me.

I know how to say thank you!

THANK YOU!

I was thinking, Leonardo about the old song, "You have to be carefully taught." For many years, the world has taught me NOT to trust...so there is no doubt that trusting in God's process, even when it is not on "my" time frame, is an "unlearning" experience.

Accepting our gifts, no matter how strange they might seem at times, is part of this process, as is becoming more grateful on a regular basis. Some of them, I can easily say "thank you." Some, I go, "Uh...thanks...I think." Still others are, "Huh? This is a gift?...Uh...okay." But what I am learning in that 3rd category is that when enough time passes, eventually, the "gift" of it comes to light.

What the bloody hell is normal anyway? There's the crap we're constantly sold on the television...my experience is that in my own way I am living an incredibly normal life as are you!

PS - I think you should revert back to a gold cap up front, maybe get a diamond chip in it!

YOU, my dear, are 'normal'. So am I. It's the folks who think people like us are 'abnormal' who aren't normal.

Well, if a group consisting of Leonardo, Renz, Elizabeth and me DOES happen to be "abnormal"...well, I'll take "abnormal!"

I just know I would not have traded this life I've led so far for anyone else's, hard and/or weird as it has been at times. When I say that line in the General Thanksgiving, there are times I think my personal line is "...and all the blessings of MY life, strange as it may seem sometimes."

Odd, isn't it, the cosmic force that prompts several people to do similar things at the same time? (I'm responding to your comment about the gratitude list.)

I am grateful for this post. This particular passage jumped out at me:

"I yearn to live the life that makes me closer to God in the way that only I am cut out to live it. I yearn to honestly hear what he is trying to tell me and learn to “trust the process.” I know I am still resisting that “trust the process”thing. I have a level of resistance that causes more “churning” than you’ve possibly ever seen. "

I really relate to that right now. And it's so helpful to know that I'm not alone in wondering why I have the odd and uncomfortable set of gifts I have . . . and yet grateful for them and knowing that I have to pursue them to have the relationship with God I'm intended to have.

"...and all the blessings of MY life,...¨ K

Isn´t it something? I too have my Thanksgiving Prayer that is sort of like, just before sleep, exhaling deeply and saying ¨Thank you God¨...and that thank you does include *everything* because it´s what I own, what belongs on my side of the street...just or unjust, right or wrong, tragic or happy, outspoken or humble...loved or un...well, you know the possibilities...I remain, understood by God (who keeps giving me more opportunities to get *it*)...I think I understand that message clearly...TRUSTING GOD is amazing (after I realized that was all I needed).

Big hugs filled with Thanksgiving,

Leonardo

To this entire post, and especially the last paragraph, I say "Ain't it the Truth!" Thank you for this.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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