Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From Hymns on Paradise (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Webster wrote a post way back in October of last year entitled Because a Tornado is Coming.  As it turned out, it was a hurricane.  See those two flags there in the photograph? That is the signal for "a hurricane is coming." Don't let the cloudless sky fool you.

We all know what has happened over the past 18 months—lots of bad stuff. Economic melt downs in 2008 - 2009, jobless recovery in 2010, societal acrimony  and unsettled general feelings and then Whammo!— more discoveries of priest abuse scandals early this year. Top it all off with the spectre of a "double-dip" recession (and all that this implies) and even the hardiest sailor would be getting queasy in this crazy gale.

Oh, you could lie awake at night worrying about all this stuff.  Or you could focus all of your energy on the current political scene and let that side-show take your eye off the ball. Or better yet, you may feel the urge to arm-chair quarterback all of the the latest moves by the Vatican. And you could second-guess all of the decisions of the Church's leadership at every level.  Heck, you might even decide to throw in the towel and leave the Church altogether, though I pray that you don't.

You know what I suggest? Turn off the news, stop reading the blogs, take a break. Click. Aaaahh, lookee there, no more hurricane.  That's more like it!

Sure, you are upset that the professor hired to teach a religion class on Catholicism was fired for doing just that. What is the whole story? Who knows. Let it go.  Go on an information R&R. Give it a break for a day, or two, or forever, and concentrate on the big-picture, which is the little picture of who we are and what we are meant to be.

We are children of God; salt; the leaven that makes the whole loaf rise. And don't forget this: we are the light of the world. You and me. And we are called to love one another, hating sin, but loving sinners, which is everyone. No need to be choosy.

Here is another idea: let's cross the bridge into Paradise.  As painted by these words of  St. Ephrem, which he penned upon reading the Creation story in Genesis, relax from your toils and have a look into our future. Indeed, is this not the better part that Martha was missing?

From Hymns on Paradise

I read the opening of this book
    and was filled with joy,
for its verses and lines
    spread out their arms to welcome me;
the first rushed out and kissed me,
    and led me on to its companion;
and when I reached that verse
    wherein is written
the story of Paradise,
     it lifted me up and transported me
from the bosom of the book
     to the very bosom of Paradise.

The eye and the mind
     traveled over the lines
as over a bridge, and entered together
     the story of Paradise.

The eye as it read
      transported the mind;

in return the mind, too,
      gave the eye rest
from its reading,
      for when the book had been read
the eye had rest
      but the mind was engaged.

Both the bridge and the gate
      of Paradise
did I find in this book.
      I crossed over and entered;
my eye remained outside
      but my mind entered within.

I began to wander
      among things indescribable.

This is luminous height,
      clear, lofty and fair:

Scripture named it Eden,
       the summit of all blessing.

"The summit of all blessing" will not be attained here, not that we won't keep trying. I'm not going to try to set all things right all by myself today.  No, instead, I'm going to trust God with the conn and give these troubling thoughts a rest. For a day, or two, or forever...