So here is the quote I am responding to this morning:
"Soul work is not a high road. It's a deep fall into an unforgiving darkness that won't let you go until you find the song that sing you home." - McCall Ericsson.com
It was posted by my friend Regan O'Callaghan on his artists Facebook page. I read it, and instinctively loved it - because I love all of that darkness diving stuff, and I am searching for my song, and sometimes I think I find it. I think that trying to speak to a community about faith in the form of a sermon is like singing for me. Which leads me to the second quote I saw and am responding to this morning:
"People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are critics, blaming or praising him/her. What they don't know is that they are the actors on the stage; he [the preacher] is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines." - Søren Kierkegaard
I preached at a wedding on Saturday and a baptism on Sunday - people were kind, they praised me, saying that I moved them and that was great, a boost to my ego, which is all to often fragile. Then reading this quote in the afternoon on Sunday was a really grounding experience for me. The sermon is not for my ego and is not a performance, but in most cases it is simply this: a reminder of what you already know in your heart.
I rarely say anything new, because as Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun. To go back to the metaphor of 'the song that sings you home' - I want to believe that at best I am able to tap into some well used themes in a fresh way that resonates for a moment.
Now this blog post is turning into a - wow, how deep and profound I am, so I need to get to my conclusion.
I loved reading Regan's quote this morning - but as I read it I reflected on what my morning actually looked like. This morning 'Soul Work' didn't feel like a deep dive into the profound, it felt like a desperate scramble to climb out of the pit of my bed, get showered and pretend that I can do this priest thing.
I loved the wedding and Baptism and young adult dinner club yesterday evening - but much driving and thinking and speaking left me tired and depleted. Soul work is hard sometimes.
This work is unfinished for me.
The birdsong drifting in from the garden is helping!
Primates Communique from Canterbury Jan 14 2016
As a gay man and a priest, originally from the Church of England and now in the Episcopal Church, I know what it has felt like to be marginalized. The fact that the whole Episcopal Church has been 'suspended' because it decided to stand with LGBT laity, deacons, priests and bishops, and to wrestle with how to extend the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples makes me feel even more a part of this church. We can stand together on the margins - knowing that perhaps Jesus is standing there with us inviting us to hope, reconciliation and expressions of both romantic and unconditional love that are full of integrity.
When I was on my CREDO conference last year, trying to nourish my spiritual, vocational and physical being I learned the importance of margins.
We have often been taught that boundaries are important in pastoral ministry, making sure you don’t mix up the role of priest, friend, manager and leader. But most people know and acknowledge that it is almost impossible to keep all of these things clearly boundaried and be a human being in community and connected to other people genuinely. So another concept is being explored by many – it is the concept not of ‘boundary’ but of ‘margin’. A margin is not a ‘wall’ – but rather space, on the edge of things, where we can contemplate the interrelatedness of everything.
We don’t manage good relationships by building walls, we managed them by making sure that we are not overwhelmed, that we have created spaces to think and reconnect with our own inner life, and to reflect on each interaction we have on a daily basis.
One of my favorite boundaries is having a good long walk or run in the morning, sometimes in the evening. It is a time to think about the day past and the day ahead, and to reflect on my many relationships.
Find a margin today, and give yourself time to think.
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.