Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gravity and Dangerous Friendships

Apparently it's not liturgically correct to transfer a feast day backwards, and certainly not unless it's a double feast. Only special saints get the high holy days... the Virgin Mary, apostles and evangelists, people who founded religious orders, even Mary Magdalene gets a double.

Bernard Mizeki was a Christian martyr in Rhodesia in 1896, and his feast day is tomorrow, Sunday, so the Sabbath takes precedence and he just gets bumped this year. But one of our sisters spent a good deal of time in South Africa. It's still in her blood (probably always will be) and she asked if we could transfer him to today, which is a feria (which means nothing particular is happening.)

The first response was: "No." No, as in it's just not done, not liturgically correct. Then it was explained that he was an African martyr and we got why it was important to our sister. I (a bit sarcastically) asked, "When have we been worried about liturgical correctness?" That's true. We're experimenting a lot these days... finding things to pray and sing that reflect our new understanding of God, the Universe, our place on Earth, our Mother. We're reading from other religious traditions and focusing on a paragraph a day from The Universe Story for our wisdom sharing. (Translate Bible Study without the Bible.) So we sang the collect for Bernard at Morning Prayer and read from Sam Portaro's Brightest and Best, an updated companion to Lesser Feasts & Fasts. Transferral accomplished.

Today's paragraph in The Universe Story was on gravity. All of these intersecting ideas were whirling in my brain as we shared our thoughts. I was thinking gravity, not as in Newton's "force" which causes us to stick to the ground instead of flying off into space, but as in the gravity of the situation... the seriousness of it. Martyrdom is a grave issue, (pun intended) and Portaro's portrayal of Bernard Mizeki was one of "dangerous friendships". He fled oppression in Portuguese East Africa and was befriended by missionaries and became a Christian. He went on to convert other Central Africans and was trapped (and killed) by the conflict between Europeans whom he loved as friends, and the natives, whom he loved as friends.

Jesus never said it would be easy. Simple, yes, not easy. And so, as I think more about what friendship means, what gravity means, what Jesus means... I'm beginning to put it all together. It's all of a piece. Nothing separate, all in relationship... my sisters are my sisters, but they are also my friends. Portaro says: Even when they are not fatal, friendships can be life-changing, introducing death in another guise. That's serious.

4 comments:

Lynne said...

You HAVE to celebrate Bernard Mizecki, we named a duck after him. :} His feast day was the day we got our first ducks.

Claire Joy said...

That Bernard is dead now too. (We ate him.) Now Basil is top duck...

Pat said...

Is that "The Universe Story" by Brian Swimme?

Claire Joy said...

That's the one.