Sunday, November 27, 2011

Worship on the First of Advent--11/27/11

We gathered at 10:00am, a grassy plot along the American Tobacco Trail near Southpoint Crossing Shopping Center.
  •  Coffee, Juice, Bagles
  • Advent Liturgy to begin formally (first children led us in Johnny Appleseed)
  • Reading of Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  • Preaching, Wombs and Warning Signs
  • Common Prayer and Clay Molding
  • Eucharist
  • Sending Forth


Wombs and Warning Signs

The last four weeks have had my words and prayers in the space of Trust. Susannah's steadfast trust, Psalm 9, Psalm 37...

Isaiah says to us in the voice of the Father, I am the potter and you are the clay.

We are the clay, you are the potter;
   we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8)

Just on a glance, during a square dance, and walking under the New Lodge, This summer at Eagle's Nest Camp, I saw a master potter working the wheel. Children were gathered around asking about the process, probably distracting his work, but he let it be a teaching moment. He let them watch him shape the sides of what looked like the makings of an intricate vase or drinking pitcher. One who knows pottery, knows that what seems almost done, good enough, and already in the image of the completed project is often 30 minutes or more from completion, or about to be scrapped and re-sculpted. Clay doesn't go anywhere from the perspective of matter, but there is a cataclysmic metamorphosis. Some of us are vastly different mounds of clay then we were 40 years ago or yesterday. For all I know, someone is about to be molded beyond recognition today.

Talking about the poems
I'm working diligently on a book of poetry. My mother and I attended a conference and it inspired me to attempt a self-published book of poetry.  I wrote and taped to the front cover of this red notebook filled with verses: 
 March 9, 2011
2011--goal.  One poem for each week of the year.  52.  I'm at 19 poems and I am in the 10th week of the year.
 
I have 40 poems that I would be willing to put in a book and have other people read, love, make fun of, whatever. I need 12 more by December 31.  That means I have a great deal of work to complete in the next and last five weeks of the year.  Here is one of the poems that is in progress and process of becoming one of the 52.
(Note: I considered reading 10/10/03, but opted for the following rougher set of verses:

Fourteener along the Boyne


Outside Slane 
from Rossnaree
we clopped and clipped
in and out of weather
sideways rain
then sun rays

All the while Boyne flowed
in the valley

Lush is the order of the hour
Wind blows hard in
this tenth month
announcing a shift

Yet here in Ireland green persists
Cattle graze
lean into gusts
on flowing emerald slopes
just as they have
for generations

Panes shake at Rossnaree
as I scribe and soak in 
the county Meath

Wind whips over the grass
Picking up speed
as the ground drops
out from underneath the gust
The force of air
loses its' surface
the vector keeps it straight
in mid-air
NOW
and it seeks another structure
to engage

Tops of foliage down the hillside
receive a glancing blow
but the big back stop
is Spruce
He's braced and ready
has received a thousand blows
and will not fall

Now here comes the rain
And the temperature drops
or so it looks
from inside mortar and windows
it's cold in here
but not like out there

Come down rain 
and wet this Earth
whet my pen

At home the wind
eases back in the rain
but hardly here
the two know each 
other all too well
and collaborate and 
equate to October
harshness

____
So much of the work done for these poems has been accomplished away from them.  One note to myself in the red notebook: 

-Check old Journals
-Find/Check old Notebooks
-Scour my writing


Now with what seems like absent minded notes like these, it means I did a lot of partial work on verses and then had to get away, get some perspective, go running, burp a baby, eat.  I didn't forget them.  I just seems like I forgot them.  Often the words appeared when I was away from the medium of writing and I would hurry back and scribe as best I could.

Talking about the womb
Moving to a subject further outside my expertise than poetry, but stay with me and hold together the image of the clay and the potter, the poetic process, and enter the womb.  

I know about half as much about the womb as many of you. I've lived in one. Nine, better ten months, if you ask most mothers. That big circle in a Venn Diagram includes each of us, we all spent a season in a womb. But many of you have double, triple, and exponential experience with the womb. For you've baked more than bread there, unless you take seriously that bread is body.  A person has grown in many of you.

Carlyle Marney takes the image to our gathering and says, “The church is the womb within which persons happen and recognize one another” (from the Preface in Recovery of the Person).

But, think on that womb time. Ask mothers. It's an odd time. At times the two are so closely connected, and as one, that no one else can get into that relationship. Much ink has spilled over this affect for the rest of life on all parties—moms, babies, daddies, mommies mommies. Think in your own family—the womb changes everything. When we left the hospital I had the most protective, and hypothetically threatened sensation of my life. If anyone tries to hurt this trio, I'll kill 'em. I was overwhelmed by the power of the womb.

But at times, mothers feel distant from the child that grows inside. Oh, mother walks around with the child, but wants to go back to work and not nap for four hours in the middle of the day. Or, she feels so good, almost forgets the protrusion 15 inches South upon a simple glance.

God does this too, like a mother with so much acreage under her wings. God doesn't forget, but seemingly turns to other projects and leaves the womb for a bit to check on and tend to other plots. 

But inside the womb, that seemingly forgotten incubator, is still where persons happen and recognize one another. Whether God seems hovered over or off to other chores, we still have the blood and the nutrients and the ability within that womb to recognize one another in our fullness. To truly be human. Think of an excerpt from our Acts reading when receiving new members: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” When we grow in the womb, all the body parts are in a symphony sharing and distributing resources. 

Talking about the potter and the clay
A friend said of a shambled life, Has God forgotten to show mercy? Did God forget me?

No, your Father got up from the wheel and is at work as ever, though it is so tough to see and touch right now. The vessel he's crafting in you, that is you, is God's most special work. He can't rush it. When you were born, it only seemed like you were done, that you had been brought to completion.


No, he's still molding you. For God to spin the wheel and lay hands on you will take as much time away from the wheel, maybe much more time away from it, then it will with hands on directly as the clay moves in time and space.

What's the first Advent message?  That your God, the one who promised Emmanuel, is about to sit down at the wheel.

Amen.

Post a Comment