Well, we've passed through the glory and the agony of Holy Week, and now we're in the Great Fifty Days of Easter. You've gotta love a holiday that lasts not just 12 days, like Christmas, but a full 50 days! Yep, that's Christian Easter! We get Easter clear up to the Day of Pentecost (May 31 this year)! Yay!
This week has been a week of "normalcy" in my schedule, and also of holy rest. I've slept deeply every single night, and also napped every day, I think. Holy Week, if you really enter into it, can be an intense and exhausting experience for anyone. If you're a priest, it's a lot of activity. And if you're in a really good spiritual place and a priest, it's a lot of very intense activity. And even though it doesn't seem like a lot of work at the time, because the spiritual energy is so intense -- afterward, a good rest is in order. Most priests take the week after Easter off; I chose not to because I'm taking a week from this coming Wednesday to the following Wednesday (more about that later), and also because I will take time in the summer, as well as the 3 weeks in the fall to go to Italy (2 weeks of which will be continuing education time). So I'm gently resting in the midst of a return to normal parish life.
On Monday, though, here's what I got done:
Yes, the labyrinth is completed!! I'm not sure what drove me to do it on Easter Monday, except that it was a beautiful day, and there was only that one circuit to complete. It did mean collecting and hauling two trunkloads of stone, but I did seem to have the energy and motivation! I'm so very pleased with it, and will tell you about this evening's experience later. I want to talk about two more things first.
I'm preparing for a retreat in St. Louis. It's for an Anglican religious order called "The Worker Sisters of the Holy Spirit" (there are also Worker Brothers). I'll be installed as a "companion" in this order at the retreat. The theme this year is interfaith approaches to prayer and meditation. We're leaving out all the theology, and skipping right to the heart -- the encounter with The Holy in each of the 5 major religious traditions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. I get to make a presentation on Christian meditation (and contemplative prayer), and then engage in a dialogue with a Zen master. I'm so excited. What a wonderful opportunity for first-hand interchange and learning. I've long loved Thich Nhat Hanh, and his writings about the intersections between Christianity and Buddhism. Wish me well!
I will also get to see my family for a brief time on this trip, and I miss them. I'm really, really looking forward to it. I'll stay in my sister-in-law's home, and also get to see my wonderful grand-niece, Madeline Anne. Yay! And on the way back, I'll see my brother, too. My last remaining brother, who was so very good to me when I was a little girl.
The second thing I want to talk to you about is this: Susan Boyle. I post the URL for the two people in the whole world who haven't seen this appearance on "Britain's Got Talent." Why, you might ask, do I bother to post it, to mention it? Why on earth would I possibly care about a plain, rather chubby, perhaps invisible middle-aged woman, who comes across a little bit ditsy at times, but who is, as Simon Cowell says, "a little tiger," and possesses a pearl of great price within her? Gosh, I don't know. Don't have a clue. All I know is that I listen to this You-Tube broadcast over and over and over, and cry and laugh every time.
Now: tonight's labyrinth walk. I've been walking pretty much every day. Having my own labyrinth is as great a privilege as, say, having my own swimming pool or hot tub (how I'd love those!) As you may have gathered, this time in my life is incredibly spiritually rich for me. So I quiet myself at the start, as I always do. I have no particular question or problem as I begin, but I'm aware of being both incredibly grateful, and also that I need to ask so much for myself. "Thank you" and "Please" are the words that I can articulate. I begin to walk quietly and meditatively. Almost immediately I notice sticks and dead vines (that I've pulled as I was building it) in the path. I stoop each time to pick them up, and soon I have one hand nearly full. Then I hear God's voice. It's in my head, but I don't believe it's my own self-talk voice. It says, "Take care of what I've given you." And I know that voice is about taking care of the labyrinth (which was totally a God thing, as far as I'm concerned -- I couldn't have done that much work all on my own), but it's about so much more, too, in ever-widening circles. It's about taking care of myself: my body, mind, and soul; my pets; my home; my family; my parish and all I encounter in the course of my work; this community, and yes, even the world, praying and advocating in whatever ways I can. "Take care of what I've given you." Yes, it's a call and a big job, but also a big gift, to hear this. I'm not sure I deserve to have heard God's voice, but I have.
Now: Have any of you heard God's voice? I don't seem to hear it as some biblical characters do -- coming from the outside, like "hearing voices" (in our culture, that's a sign of mental illness). No, my experience of this (I actually only have a few times when it has happened) is that it's a voice in my head, but it's not my voice. If it were my voice, it would have said something like, "I must take care of everything that God has given me." But this voice definitely said, "Take care of what I've given you." It was a directive. That's one of the Big Ways I've heard God's voice. Often it has been much more subtle -- like an idea or a hunch. Or a sermon. Y'all don't possibly think that I just think up or make up my sermons every week, do you? Nope. I consider them gifts that are "given" to me, almost like dictation that I just copy down.
Anyhow. When I hear God's voice, I always want to tell someone. And I usually think maybe it's a message that's not just for me, but for other people, too. So maybe there are things you all need to treasure more, and take better care of, too. Well, if the shoe fits, is all I can say.
But I do hope you're rejoicing in the power of the Spirit, and in the power of true Resurrection!