Author Archives: watchingthespaces

About watchingthespaces

I like to watch the spaces between the things that other people see, the overflowing gaps and the chock-full emptiness.

Justice

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Mark the writer records the story of men who, out of compassion for a suffering friend, tore through the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching and lowered him down before the Master.  The first thing Jesus said to the man was to forgive his sins.  The Pharisees took umbrage at what seemed to them blatant blasphemy—how could a mere mortal forgive sins?  Jesus’ response is telling.  “Which is easier to do, to forgive sins, or to tell the man, get up and walk?  But to show that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins….”  And he heals the man.

Which is easier? As a clergy person I get to tell people they are forgiven all the time. It is a great honor, but in one sense it’s easy.  Forgiveness before God is not a quantifiable thing.  Unless it precipitates a change in the person who is forgiven it gets lost in the ether, and becomes an easy stroking of another’s ego.  To tell the man, “get up and walk,” and to have him do it requires a commitment to quantifiable and evident involvement.

We’re off to Honduras for a week to get people up and walking.  Hopefully they will also know that they are forgiven, loved and included in the Kingdom of God.

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Equality

The Triennial Convention of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Salt Lake City these days. Applause broke out on the legislative floor when word was received of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage between same-gendered couples. This question has been rattling around in the Episcopal house for a long time now. The dialog about the role of people of homosexual orientation in the Church really got its head in 2003 with the consecration of a partnered gay man as Bishop of New Hampshire. Personally it launched me on a journey, theologically, liturgically, and relationally. This has been 12 years in coming, but l hear two voices sounding off quickly in my own parish in Silver City:

Yeay! Finally! This is long overdue.

Oh, no! Not this! Now they’ve gone too far!

Those who know me know that I am celebrating. I think this is a justice and equality issue and I am proud of what we have decided to do. If you have a while I can tell you how I square this with the Bible and the Christian faith.

But more than anything I hope that this can be the occasion of real equality, where each of us looks to our own responsibilities and the other’s dignities, applied equally all around. May this be an occasion where we will be more concerned with doing to others what we would have others do to us without paying undue attention to what others are doing to us. May we not miss this opportunity to treat all the same out of the fund of love we draw from deep within where our spirits and the Spirit of the God of Unconditional Love sit together in prayer.

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Way Forward

Way has not always opened before,

But way has so often closed behind,

So says the prophetess, quiet and wise,

So is the path out of darkness inside.

I choose, and walk forward into the fog

The doors of what might have been keep silent log

Showing in hind-glance what, no longer there

Need not be heeded by feet in the bog.

I choose and the halls of heaven attending

Providence’ map, turning and bending,

Co-drawing the freedom of my footing,

Heaven and human are intersecting.

Walking away from the mists of these,

The ways that are no more,

Into the world that God and I

Choose and open my door.

prm, 6/26/15

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Magic

We are currently finishing up a Cursillo Retreat Weekend. Cursillo originated in Majorca, Spain in the 1940’s as a way to get men back into Church. It has spread into the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian churches, and a Baptist form of it that is very much interdenominational. There is even a form for use in correctional facilities. It presents a simple, yet effective model for the spiritual life. The spiritual life as described in Cursillo consists of a three-legged stool, involving are piety (what one does to enhance one’s vital union with the divine,) study (what one does to form one’s mind after the mind of God,) and action (what one does to live out the implications of the spiritual life in the world.) In our case, a team of 18 people has put on one of these retreats for 18 candidates, and we have had a great time together.

These kinds of programs are great, in one sense. Kataphatic to the core, the retreat is punctuated almost to the point of the ridiculous with little letters of encouragement, more snacks and food than anyone should ever eat, and the presentations in which the method is explained. The apophatic phase comes shortly, as each is sent back into their communities of faith.

Cursillo has the same weakness as any such program. They can become magical. We can come to expect the method to work without reflection, and we get fuzzy about what “work” means. The “work” is really the tremendous task of opening one’s inner being to the presence and power of the divine. Without the potential of this going on Cursillo would be about as useful as a dead church. I would not be involved. But just as my priesthood in the Christian Church only makes sense if our community encourages spiritual openness and then responsive action, so with Cursillo.

Actually, there has been about as much evidence as one can really get that this retreat has been the occasion of many such “openings,” or as the Gospels call it, “waking up.” I am satisfied…

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Union

Three days ago we rode the belly of the silver bird from one reality to another.  We left the high mountains, humid coastlands and colorful people of Ecuador to return to the dry mountains, windy desert flats and colorful people of southwest New Mexico.

We had spent a couple of days shopping in souvenir shops for things to bring back across the great divide.  When you shop for souvenirs for people back home you have to keep the two realities in mind.  We looked for things Ecuadorian, but no so foreign that the ones who will receive them cannot relate to them.  It is a way of sharing our trip.  It is a way of sharing another reality.  Maybe it is also a bid for inner union.  When one lives in two realities one can either bring them into conversation within or succumb to a disjointed pseudo-schizoid existence.

The possibility that the two realities might in truth be one reality is tantalizing.  If we can strip away the apparent autonomy of each we arrive at a collage of human experience and creativity spanning our multicolored planet.   I firmly believe that if you stand back far enough, as Bette Midler sang, from adistance one can perceive the face of the one Humanity.  Ifeye-of-the-world-300x199 she is indeed right that God is watching us, then God is not so distant that the human condition is of no importance to the divine heart.  I would like to imagine that the face of the one Humanity is at once the face of the varied human expressions of the divine expressed in humanity.  By my own tradition that is the multifaceted image of the Child of God, seen in faces around the globe, and grounded by the face of the one who defines incarnate deity, Jesus the Christ.

Photo credit:  http://platinum-development.ro/2013/11/harta-nu-e-totuna-cu-teritoriul/

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Weaving

We went to the beach, and walked barefoot in the sand.  We zip-lined over tropical jungle canyons.  We soaked in hot springs at 11,000 ft, and we drove through a snow shower on the equator.  We have seen exotic birds, butterflies, flowers and people.

It is a national pastime to collect exotic memories.  We paste curiosities together in endless collages and spin the memories out in disjointed stories.  Sometimes I feel that the winner of the game of life is no longer who has the most toys, but who has the most thrills.  If this is all we are about, in what does our integrity consist?  How do we coalesce the thrills into a meaningful whole with depth, direction and passion?  This is the spiritual question of living.

For my siblings and myself the thread that has run through this week is the memory of our parents.  The places we have been, the things we have done have all given us a context in which to remember and tell the stories.  The stories have not been only about two dead people, but also about the lIving, and how the dead continue to live in the living.  We have sought to weave their last threads into the tapestry that is the Moore story, an ongoing labor of love and faith, and to see our story as only one strand of an incalculable web of being that flows out of the loving, creative heart of the Divine Ground.

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Fire and Ice

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We sit in water of about 105 degrees, only our heads bobbing in the 50-degree air.  Steam floats up off the thermal spring-fed pool.  Papallacta, Ecuador, sits at 11,000 feet.  Volcanic activity beings steaming water to the surface.  Papallacta river flows by just a yard or two away.  It’s waters are–well, after I immersed myself in them I would have sworn that the only reason they aren’t solid ice is because they are moving too fast to freeze up!  We are in a world of fire and ice.

Fire and ice have carved this landscape.  Alternating lava flows and glaciation from Mt. Antizana just a few miles away has left a high valley with steep sides, even higher hanging valleys branching off into the upper reaches of the cordillera.  Tropical air from the Amazon basin flows up the slope to dump 400 inches of rain in these upper reaches, fueling the raging river.  The steep mountain sides are covered in thick green vegetation that is home to amazing fauna, including the reclusive Spectacled Bear and Mountain Tapir, and the world’s smallest deer, the Pudu. The vistas are breathtaking.

The dense and mysterious forests are enticing.  I would love to plumb their secrets.  I imagine that to do so would somehow show me more of what the world is all about.  I further hope that to understand the world would be to understand myself.  What draws me is more than the wonders of this place.  Fire and ice held in life-giving tension are the great mystery.  Do not the tension between our knowledge and our human need for mystery drive us into the dark forests of the human quest for reality?

Photo credit:  https://galapagoslastminute.wordpress.com/tag/hot-springs/

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