Sunday, January 24, 2010

Synchronicity abounding

I've been reading and blogging for a week now about various aspects of the hunger for belonging. So this morning, before I left for church (right about the time I had PLANNED to jump into the shower, so I apologize to any fellow parishioners...) my husband called to tell me a wonderful story.

He happened to be in Mississippi, and decided to drop in on an old college roommate who lives outside of Jackson. As it happened, it was the roommate's birthday (a curious synchronicity of its own: this is the third birthday my husband has accidentally ended up celebrating on this trip) and so they spent the afternoon chatting and the evening partying.

My husband had a wonderful time: apparently he got the full brunt of Southern Hospitality, and loved every minute of it. And he was eager to tell me that he (who, though married to me, does not tend to engage in things spiritual) had had a number of conversations involving religion, poetry and the Bible, and that his host, a self-confessed Jewish atheist, attends a bi-weekly gathering with several clergy in which the Bible is discussed at length. It turns out -- because it is the south -- religion is a way of life in his community, and to engage you need to be conversant with the language, the theology, and the stories.

Interestingly enough, I'm not sure my husband has ever felt quite as welcomed and at home as he felt this evening with this group of southerners. And I found myself remembering my childhood, when most of America was that way, with so many people in church on Sundays, sharing The Stories and socializing in that context. However flawed those communities may have been, they were nonetheless communities. But every time someone, or some group was shunned, another piece broke off, and now it feels sometimes like our whole society is fractured as a result...

So then I went off to church, and our reader today (one of our most gifted readers, I have to say) read (and very beautifully) this wonderful passage from First Corinthians 12:

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

And our priest, in response, told a story of having been shunned from a group of playmates in 5th grade -- complete with how he felt -- and still feels-- and what happened after, all as part of -- you guessed it -- a rumination on that hunger we ALL have to belong. He concluded with a plea for inclusion and value, not just within this church or this community, but within The Church, and between All Churches, and All nations. Because each of us hungers to belong, and each of us has gifts, and each of those gifts has value. By inviting us to live together as the Body of Christ, Paul was inviting us to set an example of inclusion and acceptance for all humanity. And we have failed badly. But it's not too late to try again.


I was feeling really jazzed by all this synchronicity, and came home eager to blog. But I've promised myself I would always do the Thomas Gospel first, putting God's Word before my own. So I posted today's logion and opened the meditation I'd written -- however long ago that was -- and, well, here it is:

Who are you to decide
which is the weed;
which is the flower?
Just grow,
rejoice in your companions;
cease your endless judging.
Let the burning come later
when the season for growth
has come to an end.

Oddly enough, it turns out to be another riff on the same subject we heard in church this morning.

And how cool is that? Do you think this is a message that is needing to be heard?



altar ego said...

And more... this morning I preached about the inclusion of our children/youth in our church family, as part of "the body" that is too often overlooked. We are a small church, and our children number about ten or so, but we only see one with regularity. The gist of my message was that, a la Paul, the body is not complete without them, and that our role as members of that body was to take responsibility for their inclusion. That inclusion means not only invitation, but love, recognition and celebration of them. They are our heirs in hope, but if they don't know they are heirs, they will seek and find hope elsewhere.

Maureen said...

Wonderful post, Dianne. And yes, pretty cool that syncrochronicity is.

(P.S. I hope you'll join us Tuesday for the Blog Carnival on the word "peace". I posted this morning a challenge I'm running for that.) said...

Ah, yes -- and that's a big piece of the problem, isn't it: if we don't raise our children in the church, then we run the risk of multiplying the fragmentation for future generations...

And, yes, Maureen, I will -- and I want to do the matching donation thing as well. Thanks for inspiring me!


Overheard in our children's sermon this a.m. in response to what part of the body you would like to be - "a foot, so I could kick out the bad people" - whoops, it's the sheep and the goats story with us doing the dividing. We congregants had to do a little shuffling and giggling. The priest turned it nicely to say that God is the one that gets to decide on the kicking out:).......and the foot certainly had its advantages and jobs. He went on to name them....our assignment for the week is to think about our personal mission and if we believe that our congregation is living into what we would like its mission to be. Interesting, I may have a post in that thinking time.

Joyce Wycoff said...

And another synchronicity ... I just finished my blog post and gave myself the treat of reading what my blog sisters wrote for the day. My post was from Deepak Chopra talking about the incredible wisdom ... and inclusiveness ... of the body. Don't you just love this stuff?!

M.L. Gallagher said...

I love the synchronicity of what you write.

Today, I talked at a forum on the power of art to create.... belonging.

Pretty cool!

And here are your words, creative, powerful and artful -- creating a sense of belonging to one body, one voice through which we are all connected.