Sunday, October 19, 2008

profound platitudes...

"The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." Someone said that in conversation the other evening, and I had to smile. I don't remember the first time I heard the expression, but it stuck with me, the way an irritating jingle from some old commercial will pop into your mind... and stick there. forever.

It doesn't fit me exactly (at least not right at the moment.) I'm treading water pretty well. Every so often I gulp a mouthful, but for the most part I'm still breathing. Still there are lots of things I'd like to do that there's no time for, and lots of things I'd like to do that I'm carefully carving out time for. Balance never was my forté and probably never will be, but with the help of a daily "To Do" list and a schedule that allows for small blocks of time between prayers, cooking, doorbell, and my work outside, I'm managing. I'd like to write more often, but am finding I have less to say, or at least not enough time to say it properly.

I was at a friend's profession Friday night. She and I actually joined this community as postulants together and we were comrades/combatants our first year. We were clothed in the same ceremony and then split up for three months when I went off to Wyoming on a special project. When I returned, we had a few more months together, but then she left us and went to another order. This happens a lot in the religious life. People move around. A Vocation is not just a call to serve God, it is a call to a specific community, and that's not as easy to discern as the God-wants-you part.

My friend and I have kept in touch sporadically, which isn't always easy either. She has her life and I have mine, but for the big celebrations it's always important to be there, for each other, as a witness to friendship, to commitment, to celebrate the joy of new directions and new growth.

The best laid plans of mice and men... another expression that sticks, and in the case of her Profession ceremony, was definitely on target. A traffic accident in the city caused two (of an expected three) associates-to-be to be stranded somewhere on the highway, so they missed their reception ceremony. The one who showed up was received. The next plan-gone-awry occurred when the preacher was likewise lost in transit, and the Gospelor was asked to preach an impromptu homily. He did an admirable job, reminding us that God is spontaneous, and probably not nearly as serious as we package Him... that we should be more playful when we approach our lives of service, because a sense of humor will get us through a lot. The evening's lesson from Ezekiel concerning the water flowing from the temple was a case in point: he explained that in the desert, water is power. But if we think of water instead as blessing, a blessing for all, not just those in control of the resource, we will approach our ministries in a whole new way. He spoke of my friend as a wonderful reminder to him that God is playful, and urged her to continue to remind us of that truth.

The service moved along and we were just starting communion, when the preacher arrived. My friend stepped out in front of the altar and said, "Wouldn't it be playful... if we heard two sermons tonight?" Everyone laughed. And so we did. Finally at the end, one of the other associates-to-be had also arrived, so we went through the reception ceremony again at the end of the service.

Spontaneity. They lived it Friday night and it was a blessing and a reminder to me. So much so, that when another friend, who lives with my sisters up in Brewster, asked me to ride back to their convent instead of staying overnight, I said yes... and surprised them with an impromptu visit.

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