A friend responded to last Sunday’s sermon by sending some sentences penned by Thomas Merton, catholic monk and poet. Speaking of his epiphany, Merton wrote:
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”
I immediately thought of the Pope’s funeral where the crowds in Rome called for sainthood. It seems they saw in John Paul II what Merton saw: ‘the secret beauty and depth of the heart.’ He spoke out against war, hatred, cruelty and greed; no wonder they ‘fell down and worshipped him’
Sure, it would have been better for the world if he removed the church’s ban on birth control—then his stand against a woman’s right to a safe, clinical abortion could be taken seriously. It would have been better for the church and the world if he ordained women into the priesthood. It would have been better for the world if he acknowledged the right of gay men and women to be who ‘they really are,’ and to acknowledge that they are loved ‘in God’s eyes.’
The wheels of change turn slowly. We who are of a certain age can feel our own resistance to change—if we’re honest with ourselves we hear some echo of, “We’ve always done it this way.”
Our canvass weekend was a change. I heeded Bob Dylan’s call and ‘got out of the way.’ I went to see Richie Havens—surprise, surprise! “It was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire can reach, the core…” It was a very moving, inspirational evening.
I went to the Frederic Hand concert, which nurtured a different segment of the soul. Very sweet.
On Saturday morning I recited an hour’s worth of poetry at Compo beach. I experienced a gentle touch of humility when I had to resort to reading from my book of favorite poems–I couldn’t quite get some lines from R. Frost’s Birches—the part about the ice falling from the trees.
Family Friday provided parents and children the opportunity to gather in the sanctuary together; candles were used to focus on things each participant wanted to affirm about their experience at the church—to say something they love about this community-in-the-making.
Now the canvass has begun! The ship has been launched. The response to the change has been very positive, with some carefully crafted criticism, delivered in the spirit of love. Don’t wait to be asked to participate. If you haven’t filled out a pledge card for the new calendar year, it’s time to do so, now: don’t defer or neglect. The only way to be a generous person is to give generously. Generosity is generative. I hope you will make a pledge about which you can feel good.
Enjoy this spring season as ‘faces called flowers float out of the ground.’