Now that I belong to the RevGals BlogPals ring, I’m going to try and participate in their Friday 5. This is how it goes this week:
There is a dramatic and surprising venue for Spiritual Formation/Sunday School classes at my church: Each week a different person teaches about a “word” that expresses his/her passion or interest. The first week someone spoke about “hospitality” with abundant treats on her mother and grandmother’s china arrayed on tables. Other words have been “connectivity,” “Trinity,” “money,” and “dreams.” No one knows which person will be teaching until the class convenes. I am teaching this Sunday and plan to talk about “stirrings.”
For this Friday Five, please list five words that identify your passions, spirituality, and/or life. Describe as much or as little as you wish.”
The word I chose for 2011 is open-hearted. I can be a pretty self-contained kind of person. And I am living in a community where people come and go with some frequency. The membership of the congregation I co-pastor has a 30% turnover in membership each year. That’s the nature of ex-pat life. One way I could respond to that, and to the overwhelming nature of moving country, hemisphere and culture would be to hold myself in reserve. To minimise the amount I’m invested in relationships; minimise how much this place and the people affect me. Instead I want to live in an open-hearted way. To risk loss and pain in order to be as fully present and open and loving as I’m able. It is an aspirational word. Open-hearted.
Friendship. This is the ethic I hope to live my life by. Friendships are relationships characterised by mutuality, trust and care. Friendship with the earth, with the humans I meet, with my body, with myself. I find St Aelred of Rievaulx’s rewriting of 1 John compelling (though you have to excuse the masculine language): “God is friendship… he that abides in friendship, abides in God, and God in him”. I have a community of friends who embody for me some of writing about friendship you find in the book of Ecclesiasticus, and for that I am very grateful.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price;
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
A measure of health for me is how much room there is for creativity. I don’t just mean the knitting, needle-felting, making things kind. But also the writing, the cooking, the delight in colour and shape and form.
Hand in hand with creativity goes imagination. It is fundamental to hope – being able to imagine something can change or be different. It is at the heart of my faith – Scripture and a life of prayer enlarges my imagination and the glimpses of the Kin-dom I see inspire me to live more fully into a world where justice and mercy kiss, a world where all God’s children know liberation. And art and music and books and friends are vital to the nourishing of imagination that inspires my living and dreaming.
And undergirding all this is grace. An economy that is spacious and generous: free and unmerited. Grace upon grace.
May grace and peace be yours in abundance.