Sally took every opportunity when we were in Europe and she was 7, to light candles in churches and for some reason, lie prostrate. Right there in the middle of everything, foreign language, pilgrim feet all around, on marble floor and ancient plank, she laid herself down.
Lit a candle and hit the floor. Again and again.
What did she like about that? Where did she even get that idea? Not from me! I don’t do that!? Or at least, I didn’t. Until I saw her and felt inspired.
Gesture. Flame. Heat. Melting wax. Ancient of Days.
And no need to craft the particular syllables and consonants, because she said it all with her body.
Thoroughly known and utterly anonymous in faraway lands.
Incarnate spirituality. God, in the body.
Sally has always been, of my three children, the least ready to give words. But there, in Italy and France, in Cathedral and Crypt, she was utterly at home.
There. Sprawled out. On the floor. As Prayer.
This incarnate spiritual life.
Our bodies tell stories.
Our bodies pray.
Our bodies know God.
Our Wilderness journey is taking a turn.
If we keep walking, Lent will give way to the Passion this Sunday, and as in the Labyrinth, we get closer and closer to the center, still-place, of the cave.
The hollowed-out niche in earth and stone where there lies a body in a cave,
the edge of which delivers us Resurrection at dawn.
It seems to me that Holy Week is the stuff of 7-year-olds saying their prayers.
Foreign tongue. Silent tongue. Bodies sprawled.
So, we would do well to access our “inner child” for this turn in our Wilderness journey toward The Passion:
the inner child, who embraces mystery,
explains nothing, beholds everything,
and believes the perfection of candle lighting and melting wax;
the inner child, who pauses in silence to watch and wait;
the inner child who can pretend and imagine and pay attention to the interior;
the inner child who loves God in the body, and just for good measure
(and perhaps for the fun of it),
throws it down on the pavement, prostrate.
in the days of The Passion and Holy Week, here’s to being thoroughly known and utterly anonymous, in faraway lands.
Hoping to see my fellow pilgrims along this way.
Marshall won the smart phone race to get Siri to define ‘prodigal’ for us last Sunday morning. So then our sermon conversation wrapped around the notion, of:
Having or giving on a lavish scale
Spending resources freely and recklessly
Spending without holding anything back
[Webster, via Siri]
So, what, we asked, describes the picture of prodigal living in Luke 15?
The obvious giveaway in the text is that it wasn’t just the renegade son.
The father was just as prodigal when the son returned, broke and broken.
His running to meet him when he was still far off,
a kiss to bless him, an embrace to take him back.
A ring, a robe, a pair of sandals for his feet.
And then of course, a Resurrection Feast with the fatted calf,
for ‘this, my son, was dead, and is alive again’
Complete and thorough Restoration.
And then, throw in the Epistle that changes the reconciled into reconcilers and we off on a mission to live a prodigal life ~ loving without holding back, wastefully extravagant, risking, reckless about restoring relationships, raising the dead to life.
I am connected with a group called the Wild Church Network.
A contributor to the network brought the earth into the conversation as a prodigal.
The earth. And don’t we know it? Reckless giving, abundance, spending on a lavish scale.
The violet volunteering in the broken pot comes to mind.
Our community garden comes to mind, stretched across the swath
where the earth was scored, it’s complexion scarred.
A grave was dug, and a pipeline laid down. So we could live.
And like a perennial-cut -and-come-again Zinnia, the earth
continues to give recklessly, without holding back.
15 garden plots abound,
tomatoes and chili peppers flush in the summer sun,
sweet potato vines and blackberry brambles
stretch far and wide in playful profusion,
okra and pole beans reach skyward in glory
as if to announce the coming of the kingdom of God
deep down under the earth, roots and tubers in silent stillness, rest.
This Prodigal Earth,
the wastefully extravagant giver of goodness,
the reckless high-risk presence under our feet,
supporting our very lives;
The Earth, as it says in the Psalms, rejoices and sings praise.
AAaaand, the fox is back!
Blessing us to and fro!
Take a moment to write or draw on a prayer flag or two as we offer our thanksgivings, hopes and dreams, praises, wants and desires, to the earth, from Equinox and Earth day to Easter. Supplies are on the table by the coffee pot.
Seeking to live a prodigal life, with you,
Let the sea roar,
Let the floods clap their hands,
Let the hills be joyful together.
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.