I have always been drawn to liminal, thin (as the Celts would call them), transitional spaces and places: where mountains touch the sky, where rivers and oceans touch the shore. There is something exciting and uncertain in such places, adventurous, perhaps risky, yet holding a promise of new beginnings if we are present to them. Yet deep down inside when I am in such transitional, liminal, changing and variable times I want to feel grounded and held and carried along by a stronger, deeper way I can trust whatever the outside elements are doing on the surface of things.
I guess this is all sounding very heavy to most of you, very Ecclesiastical. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to keep silence, and a time to speak . . . .” etc., etc. Such old-time wisdom scripture is deeply ingrained and profoundly wise in covenantal ways. It is not to be understood as promoting a static either/or way of living, but to offer the vision of life in motion as a moving incoming, outgoing ebb and flow.
My reflection today is stirred by this season when the political winds are whipping things up. I am concerned about its timing in our course now of human events. It is an unprecedented kind of time with all the physical and emotional unrest and fears, strong winds buffeting our bodies, souls, and spirits. A time which has been so disrupting, for better or worse, of how we define living, moving and being.
Bishop Susan Goff’s meditation for this twelfth week after Pentecost is timely. (It is linked below.) In the past it has not been often that the Episcopal Church has spoken up about politics and the political life. Yes, speaking up about God’s politics as we live into our baptismal covenant, but there are important reasons not to endorse specific parties or partisan ways. However, I believe that our Bishop here in the Diocese of Virginia, the largest Diocese in the United States and Bishop Curry, our presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States are encouraging us to vote because of all times, it is a critical time to speak and not choose silence. A time to speak; we do that when we exercise our right to vote. Whatever your political leanings or preferences it is critical at this time to speak with your vote and to encourage others to do so too.
I think back on a conversation Buff and I had several elections ago. Tallying up the several generations of our families on all sides, we figured that the net result was probably an even split. And the likelihood with such an outcome that everyone just cancelled out the vote of everyone else. However, how motivating it was to anyone who might have been the least bit lethargic about getting to the polls on Election Day – every vote counted. And we did encourage within our family, discussion and dialogue, reflective and respectful debate. I am not sure anyone convinced anyone else to vote differently but we generally benefited from the interaction. It encouraged all generations to carefully consider their words, their motivations, their intent. The older generation gave respectful attention to those in the younger generation, realizing that younger ones in the family learning to exercise their voice in considered dialogue was as important as exercising their more recently acquired right to vote. I believe such conversations honed all our communication skills. It also strengthened family ties: that is what respect can do within a family.
I offer this multi-generational, energetically communicating picture in hopes that this may be a time of building up, not tearing down all our relationships with each other.
What I love about the Episcopal Church is the idea of its deepest currents being the “Middle Way” (the Via Media). The Episcopal gathering (the Church) being a place where you may be led by your heart but do not leave your brain at the door, a place where head and heart mingle in the core of who we are as a gathered people. A place, like the middle of a river, where different currents converge and may as a whole be carried along a deep and grounded channel flowing forward. For a time such as this, it is time to speak up – with dignity and respect and hope carried along in the deepest currents of grace – the Way of Love.
May we do so with God’s Grace and Wisdom . . . ,
to Bishop Goff's message.