Between Two Worlds Day 36 (of 40)
How many days did you go before tripping up on your Lenten journey? I am not sure how many of you still honor that tradition of giving up something for Lent–be it chocolate or smoking or swear words. Traditionally, Christians have either given up something as a form of penitence (I like to say that it is making room for God) or added a spiritual discipline.
This year as I feared the voice that emerged during my last pilgrimage going underground I committed to blogging every day of the 40-day period of Lent which runs from Ash Wednesday through Easter, excluding the Sundays. Although I had a number of days where I nearly broke my discipline it wasn’t until this past Sunday where I was forced to choose between sleep or writing. I chose a glorious night of sleep! But I now have to live with a not quite so perfect Lenten commitment.
I might have chosen to slow down the pace of this blog series a couple of weeks ago. I could feel myself honoring it as a discipline even as my soul was hinting that maybe it was time to slow down. And I began to feel that my posts were actually running ahead of your ability to read them. It occurred to me that you, my readers, probably had your own lives and that my posts weren’t the center of your day!
But as we near the completion of this “Between Two Worlds” Lenten-themed conversation I want to say “thank you.” Six weeks ago I could feel that voice disappearing that was so clear as I rode out of Thessaloniki along the Aegean Sea on my Rome to Rumi pilgrimage. The demands and the concerns of the institutional church were pushing my other voice aside.
I do love my work and I am uniquely qualified and professionally well-situated to walk with congregations experiencing transition, conflict, decline, and organizational grief. But there is a fresh new world emerging that I can’t quite yet see, but have tasted. Like a good drug (of which I am too much of a goodie two shoes to have ever tried) that gets imprinted into our memories, my soul yearns to get its next fix of those rich mystical, God-experiences that often get lost in the corporate life of institutional church.
I say thank you because in your listening, your responding, your honesty and your vulnerability I have found a way to balance and attend both to my emerging voice and my love of transitional ministry. Our conversation has included those who of you who have a deep commitment to the church. There have been respondents who either left the church or who never grew up in it. Some of you have flirted with both sides of that line having left the church and come back with a new set of eyes and a softer heart. And some of you have a very well developed spiritual worldview that is completely divorced from anything we might call organized religion.
But I say thank you to you because this is a gift to me. I remember years ago telling a congregation that I believed that the future of Christian community wasn’t going to be either the church, as we know it, or the emerging forms of spirituality. I said that the future of Christian community, I believe, will come out of the conversation between the two. I still believe that and what we have going on here are the kernels of a conversation and a reformation that will only continue to grow in coming years.
I neglected my blog post yesterday like a smoker who snuck one cigarette or a sugar addict who couldn’t resist the candy bowl this one day during Lent. We are in the final week of Lent where the narrative of winter and spring, death and resurrection, and dead bulbs and erupting flowers plays out. I will continue to blog on this “Between Two Worlds” theme the rest week (unless, of course, I falter again!) and then slow it down to a pace that both you and I can keep up with! I don’t want to lose the freshness, the honesty, and the vulnerability of our conversations.
For now, though, let me express my gratitude for your part and your help in the recovery of that voice that was so fresh and clear eighteen months ago as I rode along the Aegean Sea toward Istanbul and the home of Rumi, the Sufi mystic poet.
Thank you. I believe we are part of what is and what is to come.