Thursday, July 10, 2008

Perigrinatio: our perilous journey with God

Letting go, admitting that I do not have it all figured out, requires a courage, a grace, that only God can give. I admire people who have the courage to be honest, which makes them wise. People are helped more by my honesty and vulnerability, two things that are short supply today in the Christian church, than by my answers, my sage advice about what they should do. After all, aren't I either supposed to have it all figured out, or start applying the five easy steps to having it all figured out? Does pastoral ministry amount figuring out another person's problems, giving them the program to get them out of whatever trouble they seem to be experiencing at present? As St. Paul might answer No!

I readily admit that I am far from having it all figured out. I hope this admission, a confession I need to make again and again, allows me to be more human and, therefore, to have empathy in order to stand in solidarity with others who struggle.

I am put in mind of a verse from the Indigo Girls' song Closer to Fine:

"Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores"

Crawling onto the beach of God's love is a good metaphor for today. As we crawl onto the beach and look up, beyond the sands we see a tree-line, we feel beckoned, almost compelled to walk not just toward it, but into the trees. We believe in a God who not only takes away our blankets and sinks our ships, but who calls us forward. This is precisely how God saves us , which is not via some deus ex machina. This is the lesson taught us in the fourteenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, in which Peter, upon seeing Jesus approach their fishing boat walking on the water, says, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water" (v. 28). The Lord summons Peter, who walks a short distance on the water, but, feeling a strong wind, begins to sink. He cries out "Lord, save me" (v. 30). "Immediately", we read, "Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him" (v. 31).

So, the question, Rebecca will be relieved to know, is not what kind boat are you, but in what boat do you keep such a white-knuckle grip that, even when summoned by the Lord, you remain sitting, clinging tightly to its sides?

It is always helpful to see, or at least read about, faith in action, what it means to a be disciple in the concrete circumstances of our lives. To that end, I point you to the post over the the GetReligion blog, Williams: Russert ‘took the call’. The call is the call to discipleship in his work as a journalist.


  1. Boat? How about a whole fleet! Some of which are not only left behind, but have been swallowed by the waves.

    As always, thanks for your insight.

  2. Good for you that Jesus walks on water! Indeed, He does because is LORD of the waves. The bigger the better.


A political non-rant

In the wake of yesterday's Helsinki press conference, which, like a lot of my fellow U.S. citizens, as well as many people abroad, left ...