Where was God in Charlottesville?

This was a very ugly weekend for our country. I can’t write about it, I have no words. Taylor Ott does it for me. Thank you for this reminder of where God lives. .

Daily Theology

By: Taylor Ott

The response that Mr. Trump gave to the events in Charlottesville ignited fury as it was rightly criticized for equivocation and being a pitiful, lukewarm response to racial injustice and hatred.  But as much as there was backlash, I’m guessing that the white nationalists themselves were not the only ones comforted by such a statement, because it sounded very much like statements that were made after the death of Michael Brown: some variation of “If it turns out it was wrong, his death was tragic; but the looting and rioting is unacceptable,” usually with much more emotion behind the latter half.

We seem to find it more comfortable to spread blame around equally than to acknowledge that violence and death are the product of systemic injustice.  It’s more comfortable to think that all opinions are equal, and that the conflict proceeding from a clash of opinion…

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Dividing Roots

The other day I watched my dad transplant a rhubarb plant. The day before, my husband carefully dug that plant out of the raised bed behind our soon to be sold home; I was so proud of his effort when I saw Rhuby’s long beautiful tap root and felt confident about her survival, despite the less than optimal conditions and timing for transplanting.

This was a plant which we moved from our garden in Illinois just four summers ago, a plant that came out of our neighbor Edna’s abundant garden three years before that. I love rhubarb; it’s easy to cook and truly delicious in a pie or compote or even pickled. But what I appreciate most of all is its grand reappearance every spring, its red “eggs” that pop out of the soil and give birth to showy red stalks and enormous leaves.

When I transplanted Rhuby in New Jersey I did it quickly: I dug a hole and stuck her in it thinking I’d move her again once we were settled. But she thrived in that place. Today we are relocating to a climate that is too warm for plants like rhubarb, plants that need to die back to the ground and rest before they spring back to life.

My father moves slowly, deliberately and quietly. He’s a gentle farmer. He selected a spot along the fenced edge of an established bed where potatoes and raspberries and rhubarb, and other vigorous growers were living large and enjoying life. To me the soil looked hard but my dad turned it easily with a long handled spade. Getting down on his hands and knees he worked the soil with his hands, rubbing out the clumps and lumps and moving the earth, digging five holes.

With a narrow hand spade he divided the woody root, and then tore it apart with his hands. I thought my dad was going to just dig one hole and drop the plant into it like I did; I did not realize he was going to divide it and make five new plants out of one, although it made perfect sense to do so.

If a plant can feel pain I think a little of it transferred to me as I watched my dad work. It got me thinking about raising a family, about how parents and children and their children and their children’s children divide like a root sometimes, and about the move my husband and I were undertaking. After I asked my dad how he knew how to locate the best place to divide the root and he admitted it was often an inexact science we agreed that in the end rhubarb is pretty resilient; it wants to grow. Like us.

Once he had five good pieces of root, each sprouting one or two small leaves and a perhaps a straggly stalk of rhubarb, my dad placed them in the prepared holes and with his hands began to sweep the soil he had removed back into the holes, starting with coarse soil and ending with the fine soil he had rubbed free of lumps and stones.

I noted how my dad buried those roots far enough apart so the plants would have the space to thrive, but close enough so that in the height of the growing season their stalks and leaves might touch and even provide a bit of shade for one another. I watched him, his opposing thumbs and forefingers forming the shape of a heart around each stem as he pressed down a dressing of earth, and tucking each new plant in like parent does a child at bedtime.

 

Still Here

I really am. Although, “still” is the exact opposite of what I am.

I’m inside a wave: in the midst of a hefty relocation, and while it is true that people move all the time and somehow still manage to carve out time to create meaningful prose, I have not been able to secure the quiet contemplative space that I need to write.

Oh, I can write. It’s just not fit for anyone’s eyes but mine.

I haven’t written a reflection on the Sunday readings for several weeks and this weekend is no different. I had hoped to publish a reflection for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary time. I also wanted to have tidy thematic outlines at the ready that I could use for the next six weeks. It’s not happening. All I have are exegetical notes and the questions I pose to the texts that invariably inform my writing. So, I’m taking the pressure off from writing new reflections until summer’s end.

What you might see over the next few months on The Good Disciple are snippets and musings inspired (maybe) by change, (maybe) related to Scripture, (maybe) related to prayer, (maybe) related to the world’s unintentional duplication of the socio/political situation that gave rise to the prophesy of Isaiah (please do pick it up and read it). I may also republish (with permission) other writers’ work.

Just wanted to let you know. I’m still here and I hope you will stick around.

Going up, not taking sides

A provocative and timely post for the Feast of the Ascension, penned by my friend and good disciple, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn. Check out and follow Fran on her blog, There Will Be Bread.

There Will Be Bread

lamottA short Ascension post featuring the words of Anne Lamott. Apparently her priest friend said them to her, but since they were in her book, they kind of became hers. It doesn’t matter, it is simply true – no matter which “side” you are on. Having said that, diving deeply into God by letting go of our own images, symbols, desires, transference, projection, and more, at least to the best of our ability, is pretty key in this.

Simply put, it is pretty dangerous to assume that God takes sides. Especially when they all end up being yours.

hectorWhen Jesus ascended he reminded everyone that the Spirit would come. When Jesus ascended he was pretty clear that he would always be with us in that way. When Jesus ascended he said nothing about whose side he was on because there is only one side in this – God’s side. If…

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Probing Belief: Facing our Doubts

2nd Sunday of Easter (A, B, C)

I admire Thomas. I can relate to him. Thomas, also known as Didymus, the twin, was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, but his designation as “the doubter” that has followed him throughout history is a trait that many of us share. At least, it is one that I share.

Most everything we know about Thomas comes from the gospel of John, He seems to be one of the more introverted apostles, he is a fact-gatherer and a deep thinker, and his coming to belief is an intentional process, one which he discovers happens best in community.

“Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” [John 20:24-25]

Doesn’t it make sense Thomas would want to see Jesus with his own eyes? After all, (more…)

Of Bees and Gardeners

The most beautiful liturgy of the year is the Easter Vigil. It is lengthy, that is true. But how could it be otherwise? It spans the experience of God’s presence throughout human history, sweeping the worshiper from the conception of the created world through its redemption in the person of Jesus Christ. The experience of the Vigil helps us to make sense of this whole thing that we do as the body of Christ, our quest to understand the meaning of life, our purpose and our unbreakable connection to God.

It begins in darkness which is symbolically dispelled with the lighting of the new Paschal candle and the cantor’s recitation of the Exsultet, an extraordinary hymn announcing the meaning of Easter. With exquisite poetic imagery, the Exsultet (more…)

The Root of War is Fear

Except for an endnote and disclaimer, I offer without commentary these thoughts on war written in 1961 by Thomas Merton.

“At the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear humans have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill they, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill themselves. They cannot trust anything, because they have ceased to believe in God. “ [112]

“When the whole word is in moral confusion, when no one knows any longer what to think, and when, in fact, everybody is running away from the responsibility of thinking, when humans[i] make rational thought about moral issues absurd by exiling themselves entirely from realities into the realm of fictions, and (more…)