Monday, August 30, 2010

Firefly Saints

And so it is that I find myself gearing up for another adventure. Goodbyes are being said, hugs given, and blessings bestowed. It all continues to fill me with a depth of gratitude beyond my capacity to contain. I am simply and humbly aware that those gifts of friendship, support, and love are part of the foundation beneath my feet. With every step, so moves this communion with me.

I have taken the ring I will use for profession with me to various gatherings of late and many of the people I know and love have held it, touched it, prayed over it, blessed it. Those who are also nearest my heart but furthest away in distance are also a part of this--because they are within me.

Someone recently asked me how that felt--the awareness of how many people live in your heart. Fireflies came to mind. Who can look over a hill, see fireflies, and not smile? And what is the light? A second, a blink, a delight, a hope, a surprise. That is what it is like. Now and then in the midst of the whatnot of life, blink! The light of a friend. In the midst of disorienting night, flash! The reminder of hope.

And sometimes, sometimes you actually get to see one up close! But, you have to let them go as well. Because there are others who watch for their light too, others who need them. But, the light they bring has a staying power beyond anything the technology of today can ever hope to achieve.

For that moment though...the phone call, the email, the chat, the hug, the laugh, the being with, the re-read, the memory... the whole hillside might as well be filled!

Love, the ultimate re-newable energy. And somehow, I find it all the more appropriate that it comes in the wondrous complexity of simply being. For the fullness of its becoming, love is both internal and external. It is a draw for others, and a joy for the one in whom it dwells.

Makes me smile to think about what it would look like if a hillside of firefly saints got to laughing together... pure glory.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hot Time, Summer in the City

It's a Summertime Friday Five from Rev Gal Blog Pals!

I love summer, and wait anxiously for it every year. So how is it that we have arrived at the hot and humid "Dog Days" of August, and I have not done nearly enough of what I planned to do? I want to pack in as much as I can before snow flies once again.

How about you? And what is happening for those of you who are in a different hemisphere than I, and it may be cold?

1. What is the weather like where you live?

HOT. STICKY. Weighty. Clingy. Thick. In need of a cleansing.

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year.
Farmer's Markets...and how the heat calls out the fullness of the scents of the fruits and vegetables and herbs.

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year.

Being in a perpetual state of sweatiness. Eww.

4. How will you spend the remaining days leading up to Autumn?

Getting ready to leave to go to Rome for five months! Going to gather with an international group of 13 others in my order for conferences, giving presentations, a month long retreat...and final vows in January!

5. Share a good summer memory.

Making homemade icecream as a kid...sitting on the board while Dad churned. Mom always got the paddle when we were done and she slurped away merrily in the middle of the yard.

And, I have to add...kool-aid icecubes in a yogurt cup! My grandmother had an icecube tray that made a zillion little square ice cubes at a time and she'd fill it with Kool-Aid and then pop out the cubes and give us yogurt containers full of them to go suck on outside.

Bonus: What food says SUMMER to you? Watermelon, a bowl of sliced peaches and blueberries, tortellini salad with artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesean...burgers on the grill and corn on the cob...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Free Agent

I have had reason of late to consider the idea of “free moral agency” as it pertains to several people close to me. Free moral agency…the right to make choices and decisions on one’s own, provided it is deemed that no harm is being done. Deemed or determined by whom and against what measure remain questions to me, but that is a whole other theme.

The expression came to the forefront of my mind and heart while talking to a social worker who was bandying it about while explaining someone’s legal rights. I began to imagine a sliding fulcrum that teetered loosely between the rights of one to their agency and the obligation of others to intervene when those rights to choose result in a lack of care, a lack of whatever well-being is within their means, and pain for those who love them.

There is an undeniable and certain obligation to allow for free moral agency. I understand that, believe that, and also know that the results can be both beautiful and achingly tragic. One person I care for happens to fall closer to the latter end of that spectrum, but he is at least not hugging the border of danger quite so firmly as he once was. Sadly, not so with all.

I think that aside from issues of legality, the call to love is partly a call to allow that agency--to allow for free will while fully aware of the possibility that the full-flowering of that might lead to unfortunate results and sad situations for those we love. But, the nature of love is that it “pervades all things” (as Wisdom) and continues on through, bearing the challenge of watching someone live with the circumstances that arise from the exercise of their agency--being with someone, not condoning a poor choice or trying to pretty-up a mess…not abandoning the ones we love, while also understanding one’s own human limits, one’s own responsibility to personal well-being and healthy self-agency.

This gets me thinking about the concept of obedience….and the vow of it. My experience and this musing are leading me toward describing it, this vow, as something that radiates from a point (the individual), not a force aimed at a point from a larger, more powerful swarm of points who seek to absorb or consume as many other points as possible, and are only able to do so once those points have “obediently” conformed their thinking and way of being to that of the swarm. I believe obedience is something offered instead of imposed.

Obedience to whom or what? To the responsible exercise of my own moral agency because it is best for the larger group that I do so. That larger group might be family, religious order, church, society…however you want to look at it. My responsibility, well-exercised, frees me to focus outward and eases the burden of others as well, thus freeing them.

With this line of thought, a whole new light is shining on the primacy of the individual conscience in Catholic theology. Within all of this, we each remain a unique image and likeness of God, are given a conscience by God, are endowed with the freedom to listen to revelation or ignore it, to choose wisely or not. Removing this primacy would seem to negate the idea of agency in the first place and without that, we are not really free.

God is an invitation, not a command. So is, then, by faith-filled extension, well-being. Perhaps the best that can be done is to interpret the invitation to wholeness when others seem confused by it.

All assuming that no harm is being done along the way…

Hmm. Yes. Now, as to that...