Thursday, October 23, 2008

quotes that cut the mustard

"And when we would make much of that which cannot matter much to thee, forgive us." ~John Elbridge Hines

I came across this quote in one of Bishop Spong's newsletters. Somehow I got on his mailing list even though I have yet to read any of his books. We just acquired Jesus for the Non-Religious for our library, but another sister has been hogging it is still reading it.

A conversation earlier this morning caused this quote to jump out at me. (Really jump out.) Judgment is probably my worst stumbling block in my personal search for compassion. I realize I'm not alone in this, that I was taught from childhood that judgment was a good thing: it was how I compared myself to those around me, to what was expected of me, to what I expected of others... a simple formula to see how we all were doing.

But as I deepen into this new life, I keep finding that judgment, in and of itself, is like quick sand: You step in it and it's not that easy to step out.

What really matters to God? Does God really care that the Epistle candle be lighted first and snuffed out last? I was taught that those little details were important when I was trained to be the sacristan. When I see someone doing it backwards, or snuffing the candles one-handed while they reach for the books on the altar with the other hand, my first response is irritation, not gratitude. I do not think, "Oh thank you for putting out the candles," I think, "You are doing it wrong."

I am working on this, but it can't be from the outside in. Nothing will change if I continue to judge myself as wrong for judging someone else as wrong. It doesn't work that way. Forgiveness is the key. And as I am finding out, again and again... it has always been the key, will always be the key. So, thanks, Bishop Hines. (If you've not heard of him, he was Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1965 to 1974, championing ecumenical and civil rights changes, and women's ordination, to name a few.)

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