Coming up in the next issue... Focus on History | Submissions due Monday, August 13th. All are welcome and encouraged to contribute articles, art or announcements. Contact Rev. Sara, Kristin Harvey or email firstname.lastname@example.org
At a glance
n e w s a n d V i e w s o f C h r i s t C h u r c h Ep i s c o p a l • W a l t h a m , MA
Save the Date
750 Main Street Waltham, MA 02451 781-891-6012 Church Office Hours: T - R, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Summer Worship (starts July 1st)
July 1st Church in the Garden; Transition to 9:30 a.m. service July 5th Young Adult Dinner July 7th 10:00: Historic Morning Prayer according to the 1792 BCP 10:30: “Window Walk” Tour July 10-13th Help with B-SAFE (pg. 7) July 14th Diaper Depot prep (2nd Saturday of every month) July 15th Matt’s last Sunday July 21st Diaper Depot (3rd Saturday of every month) Sept 2nd Return to 8:30 and 10 a.m. Sept 15th Yard Sale
Email email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Web www.christchurchwaltham.org Facebook: Christ Church Waltham Twitter: @CCWaltham Restoration blog: ccwaltham.wordpress.com
9:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist Beginning September 2nd (Labor Day Weekend)
8:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Spoken 10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, with Music
For a full listing of events, go to the Events page on our website and click through to Events Calendar.
750 Main Street Waltham, MA 02451 A church of the Anglican Communion Established 1849
Christ Church Quarterly Dear People of Christ Church,
When Kristin and I sent out the reminder for submissions for this issue, the coming Sunday epistle was from the letter of Paul to the Romans: So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (8:12-13) Listening to it that Sunday, I cringed a little—Christian theology has a lot of respect and honor for the body, but unfortunately has too often read passages like this and assumed that anything having to do with the body is a distraction or, worse, a sin. Paul is talking about something different than simple physicality, but the Church has not always interpreted it that way. This has been a feedback loop with sexism in the church. Worse, women’s bodies, in particular, have been perceived to be too dangerous as well. One of my Facebook friends posted a medieval document warning nuns to dress in such a way as not to “inflame the passions” of men; even back 1000 years ago, women were to blame. When we celebrate communion, we share bread: “the body of Christ, the bread of heaven.” The body of Jesus is central to the post-resurrection stories; he is said to come back in his body, his scarred, broken body that Thomas only wants to touch. Our liturgies aim to engage our senses; eating, drinking, washing. In the best of our tradition, we know that faith is not be experienced only in our souls and minds. Bodies are temporary—“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Still, our bodies have a lot to teach us. In breast feeding my own children, I felt a conduit of the always-plentiful nourishment of God; in feeding them, I was fed. When mothering is too exhausting, when I feel like there just isn’t anything left to give, somehow I feel sustained like Hagar, having given up, suddenly being presented with a well in the wilderness. Our sacred stories tell of God nourishing us bodily as well as spiritually. The Israelites got manna, not inspirational poetry. Nothing less than the central doctrine of Christianity—the resurrection—is about the body. The stories of Jesus after the crucifixion show the nail marks; he doesn’t come back fresh as a daisy. The suffering of that time is redeemed, not erased, with new life born out of suffering. The body of Jesus matters. His body is made to be a place of holiness, and so are ours. God’s desire to be joined with human pleasure as well as suffering reminds us that nothing human is alien to the heart of God. So where does God meet you in your experience of your body? In looking out over a mountaintop or being transported by music? In submitting to pain, or being shattered by pleasure? In giving birth, in running, dancing, singing? Take a moment to offer praise, as well as thanks. Peace, Sara+
Hagar in the Desert by Marc Chagall, 1960 Lithograph on Arches paper
I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well. My body was not hidden from you, while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb; all of them were written in your book; they were fashioned day by day, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 13-15
F o c u s o n :
Ivan Illich: The Body After the Incarnation by Gene Burkart Ivan Illich was a historian and theologian who authored a number of books before he died in 2002. I have studied his thinking since 1973 and over the years had the great pleasure of getting to know him personally as a friend. His last book, Rivers North of the Future, came out of a series of interviews by David Cayley, a writer and broadcaster with Canadian Public Radio. Illich believed that the Incarnation, the embodiment of Jesus, introduced into history a unique and unprecedented possibility for understanding and experiencing ourselves as embodied creatures. Here are some of my favorite passages from the book that I have been meditating on. I believe that the Incarnation makes possible a surprising and entirely new flowering of love and knowledge. For Christians the Biblical God can now be loved in the flesh. Saint John says that he has sat at table with him, that he has
put his head on his shoulder, heard him, touched him, smelled him. And he has said that whoever sees him sees the Father, and that whoever loves another love him in the person of that other. p.47 The heart of the New Testament message is that the infinite, the good, the wise, the powerful – that One whose name the Jews wouldn’t pronounce, that Allah, and now let me finally say God – that that God not only became words in the mouth of his prophets but also became flesh in the womb of a young woman. p.106 The flesh which John the Evangelist remembers, with tears in his eyes, that he touched, when he lay his cheek on the shoulder of Jesus, as he presided at the Last Supper, is the flesh of the God-Man. Because of this, human flesh gains a new dignity. Human beings become worthy of a new respect, not as a social entities but as uniquely enfleshed persons. p.107
The object which my eyes seek, which I’m invited to see in the face of everybody whom I encounter, is the face of the incarnate God. How can I speak about this mysterious new glory, thickness, phenomenological density of the body under the influence of Christianity, under the influence of the Gospel and the influence of the belief that he who knocks at the door asking for hospitality will be treated by me as Christ, not as if he were, but as Christ. p.110 In my opinion, Christ opened our eyes, in a unique and definite way, to the relationship between David (the interviewer) and Ivan at this very moment. You can say between an I and a Thou, if you want to….p.177 Faith in the Incarnation can flower in our time precisely because faith in God is obscured, and we are led to discover God in one another. p.176
The body, that marvelous, complex, intricate and yet simple in design organism that houses our mind, our soul and partakes in giving identifying expression to our personhood, who we are. A body that succeeds and thrives in the unity of all its aggregate parts, all working for the common good, for the sustenance of the life of the whole. There might be more glamorous parts like a beautiful pair of eyes, or more creative parts like a pair of dexterous hands but also those less glamorous like the liver. But without the unity of all this disparate parts working in common, in unison for the good of the whole, the body would suffer. Each is vital; each has its place in the community of the body. Each has its purpose and its task. When each part works unselfishly without infringing on the others, communicating, relating and assisting, the body thrives. When the body feels threatened, whether internally or externally multiple parts react, adrenaline, the immune system, the lymphocytes and so forth. Many times the malaise, the pain is felt throughout as the whole community shares in the discomfort. But at times cells will break away from this unity. Their focus is completely selfish and egotistical. Their concern is with growth to the detriment of those around. They will consume greedily what was once shared by all, they will corrupt, attack and destroy the healthy cells around them, and they will resist and fight any attempts to be eradicated , or to be changed back into cells that are part of the unity, the community of the body. These cells are a cancer, they separate from that 100% unity and become that 1% percent interested only in their needs all the while aggressively consuming
Get your copy of the Sabbatical Brochure—the how, why, and what next of our rector’s sabbatical this fall. (Sara is also on vacation with her family mid-July to mid-August, quite a different endeavor than a sabbatical!) The brochure is available in the narthex and bulletin boards around the church, as well as on our website.
and weakening the whole. This cancer contaminates, pollutes and exploits the body until it manages to destroy it, too greedy and selfish to realize that the death of the community will also lead to its own demise. The warning is that unless those cancerous cells are addressed early in their development they will grow so strong, their influence will become so pervasive that there will be no stopping them and the body in resignation will have to come to term with the inevitability of those consequences…death, the extinguishing of life. I am afraid that in our society we have allowed this cancerous 1% to dominate our community as it spreads the culture of greed, consumption, financial exploitation and corruption. A 1% that devours the resources of our planet and in their careless haste unbalances the fragile ecological system. This 1% cares only for their wealth, power and success and has no interest in the well being and health of the community. To them the community is not an aggregate of human beings but an aggregate of commodities to be bought, sold and managed. We know that this financial system, this values system has been in place and growing for quite a while. The author John McMurtry even wrote a book not so long ago titled “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism.” He states “Our social immune system is being overwhelmed by growing out of control money market cancer…long term systematic and irreversible destruction of global life-organization emerged for the first time during the current advanced stage of capitalism.” The question now becomes what are we going to do to restore the health of the community and are we still in time to stop and reverse it before it takes us to its inevitable conclusion.
Christ Church Episcopal • Waltham, MA
[Note: This new section to the newsletter is a reprint of our prayer list with a brief explanation of who we are praying for, why, and their relation to the parish.] Members of our parish community: Gene Burkart, Muriel Nurse, Andrea Shirley, Lucie Faramelli, Dot Smith
Received and Confirmed The following members (pictured above, left to right) were received and confirmed with Bishop Shaw at The Cathedral Church in Boston on April 28th: Rob and Emma Atwood, Douglas Whittington, Christine Dutt, Jesse Foster-Stout, and Byron Garcia.
Young adult group All in the 20’s/30’s range are welcome to join in for dinner at the Killewalds Thursday, July 5th at 7 p.m.! Thanks to Sasha and Phil for hosting and bringing back this tradition. Stay tuned for an event later this summer for parents with infants and toddlers... and let Rev. Sara know if you want to kick off a social event for another group...senior tea, anyone?
The Body as Community and Unity by José Borrás
Parish Prayer list
Rev. Sara’s sabbatical
The dates for our 4th year of participating in B-SAFE, a day camp to serve children in need, are July 11th, 12th and 13th. As in the past, we are looking for volunteers on the 11th or 12th and help bring and serve lunch at St. Augustine Church in Roxbury, and then stay for about a half hour and read. Or the 13th at Houghton’s Pond in Milton where we will grill up hot dogs for lunch. We also need help around 6 p.m. on the 10th and 11th at Christ Church preparing lunches for the following day, and donations in the Sunday collection with B-SAFE written on the memo line. Call me at 781-899-3095 with any questions. ~Bill Fowler
School supplies for children of prisoners For the past eight years, Christ Church members, along with three other area churches, have taken part in a program to help the children of inmates start off their school year with new back packs and school supplies. These children suffer emotionally and financially from having a parent in prison and are very grateful for these positive kinds of support. Please consider helping this year. More information will follow in both the E-Crier and church bulletin in late July giving the August deadline and items needed. But for anyone wanting to get an early start, school supplies go on sale at Staples, Target, Building 19, etc. starting in July. We’re looking for backpacks and basic school supplies for kids 6-17. ~Sue Burkart
Friends and family: Michael O’Brien, Father of Jim O’Brien Kelly Burke, Jen, Alice & Matt Nelson, Friends of Sue Burkart Lachance Family, Family of Sue Burkart James Kelly, Sue McCallum, & Mary Ryan, Friends of Janet Corliss Richard & Karolyn Hagearty, Parents of Erin Jensen Michael German, Father of Jennifer Hobin Emery Maddocks, Father of Eric Hobin Bob and Jim MacStravic, Brothers of Marcia Luce Virginia, and Dale and Libby Shaw, Friends of Marcia Luce with chronic health issues Danielle Haché Morgan, Sister of Michelle Haché, recovering from brain tumor surgery Edward Stettner, Father of Victoria Sundgren and grandfather of Max Sundgren Fred and Fran Hartman, Family of Marjie Hartman Mary Kittredge, friend of Marjie Hartman
Outreach Updates: Grandma’s Pantry: Needs: tea, vegetables, and all kinds of cereal and instant oatmeal. Open Friday mornings from 9-11, to Waltham seniors. Diaper Depot: June by the numbers: 95 kids, 74 parents 2850 total diapers distributed. Open 3rd Saturday of the month to families in need. wwww.ChristChurchWaltham.org
Grandma’s Attic: The Thrift Shop is currently collecting hangers with clips or children’s hangers. No other types of hangers are needed at this time. We also accept books, cd’s, dvd’s, small household items, lightly worn clothing and shoes. We will be closed July and August, but repopen on the 3rd Saturday of the month again in the fall.
Hannaford gift cards: Ten individuals/families were helped in June. Please consider a donation of a gift card to Hannaford in the amount of $15. Checks may also be made out to Christ Church with “food assistance” in the memo line. These cards are made available to people who stop by the church looking for assistance buying food. Thank you! 7
Announcements Vestry Update The vestry recently gathered for a half day retreat at Church of Our Redeemer in Lexington. It was a chance for us to talk about whom we are as a parish, our strengths and how we’re doing as part of a mutual ministry review. It was an opportunity to do some planning, both for the short term and longer term as well. We spent a good bit of time determining what will need to be covered during Rev. Sara’s 3 month sabbatical and considering how to best accomplish that. We’re anticipating this break as an opportunity for rejuvenation for both her and the parish. This is also a time for reflection, as is the short bible study that we have been starting our monthly meetings with more recently. We are very happy to be recipients yet again of Deanery grant money for Diaper Depot, and we are equally thrilled to be awarded a Green Grant for building insulation. This, of course, compliments the renovations that are already going on as part of the restoration work and capital campaign plans. Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger, the architects and engineers who evaluated the condition of the tower, have put together a proposal for the tower restoration work. We have decided to continue their services for comprehensive construction documents in order to get competitive bids from contractors for the work. This will allow us to go forward, confident in the scope of what needs to be done and the bidding process. Hopefully the tower restoration work will get underway soon, now that the warm weather is with us. ~Michele Driscoll, Clerk
Thanks to departing Micah intern Matt Dooley Bringer of contemplation, action, ecology, and fun! We are so thankful for your time with us and wish you the best in your future ministries! 6
Weedbody, Godbody by Paula Tatarunis
After a successful CPA grant proposal last spring and a successful capital campaign last fall, our fieldstone building is now showing signs of restoration and renewal that have not been seen in quite some time. During Lent, many stained glass windows were removed for restoration by the experts at Serpentino Stained Glass of Needham. Among the windows restored was the “Good Shepherd” window along the south wall of the church, the oldest window in the building that dates back to the original Christ Church parish building on Central Street. After being disassembled, cleaned, touched up, and re-leaded, the Good Shepherd window shines and glows on sunny Sunday mornings with colors and detail that few can remember seeing before. All of the stained glass work was paid for with taxpayer funds from our CPA grant for historic preservation. It’s easy to spot which windows in the church were restored – just look at the lead! Restored windows all have fresh leading between each pane, still unweathered and bright gray in color. Our parish is also making progress on the restoration of the church tower. Most of the CPA funds are earmarked for this project, which will ensure that the narthex is dry and sealed from the elements for decades to come. Early in June, Vestry approved the contracting of certified plans from SGH (Simpson Gumpertz & Heger), an architectural engineering firm working Christ Church on the complex task of restoring and waterproofing the weathered and aging tower. These certified plans will lay out with precision and detail the amount of repointing of mortar required on the exterior of the tower, the degree of refurbishing required of structural steel beams, and the scope of interior infrastructure necessary to completely waterproof the narthex walls and floor. Although the certified plans from SGH were not part of the CPA grant, and will instead be paid for out of funds from the capital campaign, these plans are vital to ensure that the tower project is done economically and properly. Work should begin on the tower project later this summer. However, the tower is not the only big project that will be made possible by funds from the capital campaign. Within the next few years we will see carpets replaced, bathrooms modernized, handicap accessibility created, heating efficiency improved, and fallow space in the basement brightened and restored for church ministries. Pledges are made over five years, and we need to receive the funds before we can do the work! We were also blessed with a “Green Grant” from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to insulate the attic spaces, and that work will begin in in the next few weeks. As contributions come in out first priority, after the tower and narthex, will be handicap accessibility for the restroom near the choir room. As a reminder, the capital campaign is still ongoing, and you can still make a pledge! We were very fortunate to reach and exceed our fundraising goal last fall, but the more money we raise the more we will be able to accomplish with our wonderful (but needy) church. building. If you are interested in making a pledge to the campaign, please speak with Rev. Sara or the campaign co-chairs, Cathy Hughes and Mike Balulescu. Finally, thank you again to all of the parishioners that contributed to the campaign!
Christ Church Episcopal • Waltham, MA
Sometimes when I go into the woods to take pictures, I find myself thinking about what attracts my eye. The attraction itself is pre-reflective, and depends on an attitude of open receptiveness. Sometimes what attracts is a bit of color, other times a purely formal juxtaposition and other times (judging from my pictures) it’s some resemblance to the human body. In my collection of plant photos humanoid images abound— the orans position of upraised twigs and branches, fallen trees lying like corpses in the leaf mold, the pregnant bellies of wild field garlic, and its witchy, medusan hair when it goes to seed, the evocations of youth and age when new blossoms come up amidst last season’s dried, skeletal remains, the laden cradles of swallow-wort and milkweed. My photos of individual plants sometimes seem to me to be studio portraits, with the flower or the pod or the seedhead looking frankly back at me eye-to-eye, or eye-to-lens/eye. It’s clear that, in the realm of photography, I anthropomorphize like mad. So why, then, does anthropomorphic language about God bother me ? When I hear “God loves you more than you will ever know,” or “God made you in God’s image,” or even “Son of God,” I squirm. I want to ask the theological version of the question of the tree falling in the deserted forest: what, then, is God where there are no humans to construe God? And what does it mean to be “made in God’s image?” Isn’t it more accurate (I quibble) to say we have made God in our image, investing God with all the things we value most about humans—love, care, compassion, protection—in addition to, frequently, giving God silly accessories like arms and legs, a gender and facial hair. In the meadow, I am in a relationship with my botanical subjects. My pupil opens and the light that bounces off a daisy hits my retina, setting off a cascade of “white, teardrop-shaped petal, homely, demure”—it and I respire, reciprocating oxygen for carbon dioxide. I lean in and smell, maybe touch lightly with a fingertip, and more information ascends to my brain, inciting more outwardly rippling associations. If I were so inclined, I could wrest the flower from the ground and eat it, assimilating it into the cells of my own body. Plant and I are deeply enmeshed. What would it mean to face a flower with pure and wordless perception, without concepts, without associations, without desire? Even if that were possible, the sensing body is still mediator and the flower-itself is ever behind the ghostly projection of the senses, ever retreating from all attempts to apprehend it in its essence. The body itself retreats behind the same wall; sit in meditation and watch it dissolve into a mist of sensation, then vanish without a retrace. Nothing left behind but a camera rusting in a meadow. But God is not simply an object among objects. With God, our senses are useless and language and thought flounder. If God is the ground and sustaining source of all that is, the “that there is something rather than nothing,” what are we humans, with our arms and legs, with our sense organs and language-generating brains, to make of God? We mine our experience, deeply grounded in our bodies, for metaphors and symbols that (as Wallace Stevens said) “will suffice.” Something intimate? Something parental? Something loving? Something deeply, inextricably relational? wwww.ChristChurchWaltham.org
Photo by and courtesy of Paula Tatarunis
Is it so far fetched to say that God’s creating, redeeming and sustaining is exactly the image in which we are made, and the basis of how we relate to God, the world and one another? And is there something in my conversations with weeds that can teach me about the nature of prayer ? 3
In Pictures: D i n e
In Pictures: s p r i n g
on Dumplings and Browse For Books Fundraiser
gardening and Post Office Food Drive
From browsing a wide selection of donated books in Upper Fales Hall, to dining on dumplings in Lower Fales, the Community Day Center fundraiser on April 21st raised over $3,000! Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy was in attendance along with the Day Center’s Executive Director, Marilyn LeeTom and Board President Angela Lordi. For more information about the Day Center, visit http://communitydaycenter.org.
Photo by and courtesy of Peter Lobo
Feel the burn By Matt Dooley
Boston to be closer to Evan while he was working on his PhD in I grew up in central Florida. My family and I started attending St. economics. That was five years ago now. We got married two years James, the local Episcopal church, when I was in second grade. ago at St. James, and Evan is planning to finish his dissertation The first Sunday we went was the annual church picnic, and no sometime this fall. one hesitated to invite us along. We quickly decided this was the We moved to Waltham about six weeks place for us. They welcomed me into the ago, and we love it. Even our dog is ecstatic, children’s choir, even though I started having discovered the joys of playing in her sobbing the instant my mom left the own backyard. So far we’re having a great building. My brother promptly charmed time meeting our neighbors and learning everyone in Sunday school class. My mom more about the area. joined the Altar Guild, and my dad put Throughout the time I lived in North his contractor’s skills to use as the Junior Carolina and after I moved to Boston, I tried Warden in no time. I think we were all to find a church that would both welcome surprised at how easy it was to feel like and inspire me, as St. James did, without we had found a new family. I sang in the much success. When we decided to move to choir till I graduated from high school, my Waltham, I looked for Episcopal churches brother was recently the church sexton, and in the area. I admit I found Christ Church my parents are still on the Altar Guild and Amanda with husband Evan and their dog. because it was the first hit on Google. I think (sometimes) the Junior Warden. that’s one of the greatest Google searches I’ve ever done! It’s been so I moved to south-central Florida for college, majoring in easy to feel comfortable and felt so natural to be involved in such a biology and chemistry. After college, I moved to North Carolina diverse and friendly parish. I didn’t realize quite how much I missed for graduate school. While I was there, a friend introduced me to having a church home until I found one again. I’m looking forward Evan Gee, who would become my husband in a few years. I lived in North Carolina for three years, and finished my masters’ degree. to working with some of the outreach programs, getting to know Then I got a job at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and moved to everyone better, and being involved in the community.
As a high school hockey player in Minnesota, I learned early on that there were certain muscles that you needed to work on if you were going to be great. Quads, of course, to power you through the exhaustion of an overtime game; abs and hip muscles, to give you strength and balance when you were ‘battling’ in the corners; and, though it may sound strange, your forearms, because weak wrists meant a slow shot. So as part of our workout routine, we tied fifteen pound weights to round wooden dowels and, holding our arms straight out, rolled the weights up and down, up and down, until our forearms began to “feel the burn”. An hour or two later, pounding out an English paper late at night, my hands would continue to quake slightly, the strangely satisfying sign of what I can only describe as “a good type of tired.” To this day I’ve kept in mind what one of my coaches would say to us when we were tired during practice. “What’s it gonna be?” he would ask, leaning philosophically on his stick, as we sucked in air between wind sprints. “What are you going to choose? Yes, or no?” “Yes”, we’d respond, some more wearily than others. Sometimes I meant it, sometimes I didn’t. While I always knew I had to say “Yes” outwardly (no coach likes back-talk), I knew, and my teammates knew, that really, it was a question we could only answer ourselves. Coach could make us do all the wind sprints he wanted, but he could never know if we were actually pushing ourselves, willing ourselves, to do them, or if we were just dumbly acquiescing to the rhythm of the sprint. The truth was, we had the choice,
Photo by and courtesy of Kristin Myers Harvey
O u r Pa r i s h
Christ Church Episcopal • Waltham, MA
to embrace the moment, to fully “feel the burn” and rise above it, or to go through the motions and remain miserable for the duration of our time on the ice. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God tells Her people, “I have set before you life and death. Therefore, choose life.” A few weeks ago, the death that our country, society, and world so often chooses became incarnate in the form of a homeless man who I sat and talked with in a Dunkin Donuts. He rolled up his shirtsleeves and showed me deep scars on his forearms left by shrapnel he’d been hit by during his service in Afghanistan. After a few minutes you could tell that the scars were more than physical. His spirit had been deeply wounded by the violence he’d received and inflicted in that country. His scars told me something that I already knew, but had forgotten. Far too often, we choose death over life. We choose to reject the sacredness of God’s gifts in the vain hope that we can get squeeze out something more. On the large scale, we as a country choose war over peace, profit over simplicity. On a smaller scale, we also—I also—so often try to take more, try to “improve” what God has given me. I want more leisure, a better reputation, more money, more time to myself—and by chasing these things, I not only hurt others, but I reject the immense gift of my life, my simple life, as it is, that God bestows upon me in each and every moment. But the truth is, we can change. No matter how often we choose death, we are always offered another chance to choose life, in every moment. There are endless numbers of people throughout history who have chosen life. I’m thinking of people both known and unknown, from
the great Saints and Mother Teresa, to an old woman I met on a trip to France, who begged every day outside of the cathedral, who had in her eyes some kind of knowledge and peace that could not be put into words. We put these people up on a pedestal, as saints to be admired from afar, simply because we don’t want the burden of expecting ourselves to be like that. But to shy away from that call is to choose death, in all of its mundane and subtly seductive forms. Every single person in the world can be a saint, because a saint is simply someone who has learned to choose life, to say “yes” to what already is present. For me, choosing to say “Yes” to the wind sprints wasn’t about a masochistic style of self-improvement, but a simple recognition of what needed to be done in that moment, and a decision to engage in it fully. Each moment is different, but the choice is always the same. Yes, or no? There’s no formula for how to behave in every situation. On another day, saying yes might mean outwardly saying no to someone or something, because it doesn’t align with your deeper calling. The only method is to listen for the voice of God, discern the choice, and then choose yes. To this day, when I think about that choice, I often look at my hands, remembering how I would often say “yes” to just one more session with those weights, just a few more minutes of feeling the burn, and learning to accept it as it is. This is a simple path. It will never be perfect. But the choice is always there. So let us first begin to become aware of how, in this moment, God is inviting us to choose life. And then, moment by moment, let us say, “Yes”. 5
Published on Jun 21, 2012