Kirkepiscatoid

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

(Photo from Alaskan Things Photos)

Some of you may know I am presently up in Seward, AK visiting my blogfriend Robert this week. This has already been an exciting first 24 hours, simply because I can now say I have visited all 50 states before my 50th birthday!

I forgot my data cord so am not able to download a picture of the mountains myself yet, but I found this picture to give you an idea of what the mountains look like this time of year in Seward.

Let's just say that this flatlander, who spends many evenings looking out at an ocean of pasture, is absolutely captivated.

These mountains are so different than any I've seen. The tree line is "short" on them, and the snow line is getting "longer" by the day this time of year. As we drove from Anchorage to Seward on the Seward Highway, we are right at the time of the year the birch trees have become golden, so we drove through acres and acres of yellow-gold paths. But when we wind through the mountains, their starkness is what grabs me. I feel almost like I've been dropped off in the Himalayas, not the United States.

In short, I look out at these mountains and I see the stark beauty of truth. When we all examine ourselves--REALLY examine ourselves, in that way St. Benedict and many of the other great teachers and saints ask of us, we see the starkness and inhospitable arid-ness of our faults. We accept "nothing can grow in these places." They are the experiences of our lives and our innate faults that contribute to the sum total of our brokenness.

If we did nothing except stare at these rocks, or if we contintued to vainly try to make something grow on them, continue to keep trying to stick all our psychological "square pegs" into "round holes", we'd die in the aridness of our own broken souls. I have seen this in myself, and I have watched it play out in others--some so close to my heart that to watch them do it and despite any of my best efforts to get them to see differently, it wounds me in the process, because it is a scenario that is out of my control. I suppose "controlling other people's realizations of themselves" is one of my arid places, too.

But if we merely BACK UP and look, these inhospitable mountains become a thing of gentle beauty. Just in my mere driving around town this first day in Seward, I marvel at how these mountains frame the inlets and bays along the coast--places of tranquility. I look at how the colorful houses of this little town rest in the protection of these mountains and bring warmth and color. It's the time of the year all the tourist stuff is mostly closed, and the townies are settling in for the winter in the company of each other, and the hope of another productive tourist season next year. At the foot of all these things we cannot change and will die trying to, is life and hope and love.

I have thinking a lot about "the winding down of year B" in the Revised Common Lectionary. Year "B" is the Mark year. Mark is my favorite Gospel, and I think why I like Mark is...well...its starkness and brokenness. The disciples fuss and argue. They are afraid. They are impetuous. Time and time again, Jesus is telling them point blank about things, and they just "don't get it." As we say around home, "They're dumber than a box of rocks." Mark doesn't even end like any decent kind of a movie. It ends like one of those movies where you want to know "Well...what happened after that?" It leaves you unfulfilled. But I have to remember it was written at a time that history did not KNOW what mark this man Jesus was to leave on humanity, and his "fully divine" nature was not really thought out so much yet.

Yet Mark remains my favorite Gospel simply BECAUSE "so much is left up to us to put together." The humanness of the Disciples (and especially my buddy Peter, who I am absolutely convinced shares a few extra DNA base pairs with me) reminds me of just how much good came out of these difficult, broken people in the next generation of the Church, and how Jesus was able to love them--I mean REALLY love them--and see God within them. He didn't blame them for his own human shortcomings. He didn't say his time on earth would have been more productive if not for them. He didn't wish for more "perfect" disciples. He took what he had, and he saw the beauty in it, and changed the world with this strange crowd of guys ranging from rough fishermen to prissy tax collectors.

The things we cannot change about ourselves, the heart of our brokenness, is not to be feared and covered up and lied about--they are there to frame the parts of us that love fully, and in Technicolor. The existence of these things are there to force us to reach out to each other in spite of our broken blank parts that cannot be fixed. The things we cannot change about others, are not things that we have a right TO fix. They are there to fill in the blank spots of our own brokenness, to add color and life to the sum total of God's reign.

We only "get it" when we step back and see the big picture, and see the grand beauty that can be created from puzzle pieces of brokenness, mixed with the light and color and uniqueness of every human soul that touches our own through the waters of our own Baptism and the covenant we make every year to honor it. What a Church Universal we would have if we only "took what we got" and made the most of it!

8 comments:

Alex and Brigid are loving the company and extra attention!!!

This is really brilliant. As I think you have gathered, I tend to look at my hard and arid places and . . . well, be much too hard on myself. I am going to try to remember this image of stepping back to see the big picture in order to find the beauty. Thank you.

I have to remind myself of it now and then, Ruth. Then I think about how even people like Mother Teresa had "the dark night of the soul," and I realize that might be a more common human condition than we care to admit.

For 'stark and simple' - I go to several places: the water, the mountains, a convent or monastery. . . like that. Not Mark. I think he totally made up today's gospel (20:2-16). Totally.

Luke's my evangelist. Feeds my soul.

Luke is a very close #2 on my Gospel Rank Order List. But for me that is b/c he describes the healing miracles in a way that resonates medically with me. Luke the physician displays the same characteristics that I still value--the ability to observe.

Matthew is too "he said/she said" for me. John is SOOOOO dead last on my list. As you know, I sort of gritted my teeth and forced myself through John this spring and summer. I'm glad I did, but I would put "pulling a festered sliver out from under my fingernail" as more pleasurable.

Takes my breath away...good for you visiting Robert (I´ve currently posted his prayer at my blog and didn´t even ask...Lord, have mercy).

Well, perhaps one of these days, dear Leonardo, I will have to make a trip south! I'm just sorry we could not make connections in the states when you were here!

Oh YES! You´d love it here, I think as you´re not the cowardly type...we have some very awe inspiring vistas around this place (as close as out my front door)...very amazing and the culture is THICK with spirituality...thanks to the Maya mixing it up with Christian beliefs.

Good!

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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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