Digressing into Normality

In the midst of all the craziness of life in Anglican-Land these past two weeks, a craziness that can pull the ground out from under one's feet, I have almost gotten lost several times: lost in the "this- is- the- most- important- thing- in- the- world- land." Just in time I was saved by the joys and sorrows of day- to- day living.

Kathryn has been working for months on a set of photographs she just hung for a show in Newark, Delaware. Wednesday night the photographs were spread across our dining room table. Most of the photographs were close ups of various flowers, so close for example, that only a curve of white, with an edge of brown/green gave hint to the larger subject, an opening magnolia flower. As she worked on these photographs I found myself caught up in the miracles of ordinary things seen through new eyes: of flowers see so closely that they become a new world order, of a branch held close and still so that the viewer could notice the very small insect working a way through the grasses on the surface of the branch. And, looking up from the photographs spread, I could see again my friend and companion of 41 years and see her anew as well.

Thursday night I went to St. Peter's Church choir rehearsal, where I heard for the first time a piece for organ and choir with music by George Bayley and words from my poem, The Healing River. George's music and the choir's singing blew me away. I can hardly wait to do a video of it and post it on YouTube.

On Friday, early in the morning, I got a call from a close friend, whose husband of only sixteen months had just died following surgery. The sadness and sorrow of his death was the greater because these two wonderful people had found themselves in their full maturity and brought to their relationship with each other all that life had given them. The joy that comes from the awareness of a zeal for living and loving and the depths of sorrow at comes when death is a robber and not a friend, brought home the truth of the matter: that there is an unfairness to reality that defies comprehension. How could gift giving and receiving be conjoined with something so miserly as untimely death? May the souls of those who leave and those who stay rest in peace.

Friday also was filled with medical bulletins: My mother has a serious case of getting old, the body giving way. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. Don't talk to me about getting old…I get it.

On Saturday in a fit of joy the airlines were aligned, if not the stars, and our daughter came back safely from Sweden where she had been for an art gallery opening in which some of her work was shown. She touched down in Philadelphia on the way home to San Jose just about the same time as our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter Lily came in from Germany to spend a week here. Everyone got to their destinations safely. Lily is wonderful, of course.

Sunday I found I was quoted in the New York Times. I led the children's "liturgy of the word" in chapel. The kids in Chapel didn't throw stones, but rather seemed to like our time together. The second of these notes is vastly more important than the first, as anyone who leads services for 4 -10 year olds knows.

Monday Susan wrote that her boy is safely out of Iraq. Come home soon! May they all come home soon.

So, Monday afternoon, looking at the various bits of mess that constitute the landscape in Anglican-Land, I am gifted with at least some perspective. It is worth some struggle to keep Anglican-Land from becoming yet another Patriarchy. We have enough of them. But it is worth a great deal more to remember the living and the dead, and to be with friends and family, small children and good music. Some days are better spent in joys and sorrows of a more visceral sort than can be provided by "mere" church.

From time to time I need to remember that.


  1. Great post! I call them "God sightings", and I invite my congregation to offer them every Sunday.

    The thing we have to remember is when we do right, God reigns, and when we do wrong, God reigns.

    Bunker Hill
    Spearfish SD

  2. Mark, I had just finished reading the resolutions for changing the Constitution and Canons of Fort Worth (my home, sorry to say), was gnashing my teeth, and then I read your post. Thank you, thank you. It is so easy to lose sight of the really important things, and especially these days, I need to be reminded of them

  3. Lovely post, Mark. Thanks. I really enjoyed reading it.


  4. One of the dangers of listening to the insane long enough is that their logic can replace your own. Especially difficult when it's a "folie aux deux" (or more than deux). Nothing like really important things to restore the soul.

  5. Normality is now so adnormal we must note and celebrate it. Thank!



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