Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A holy intention even in the so very long lines at Heathrow

La paz os demo, mi paz os doy; yo no os doy como el mundo la da. No se turbe vuestro corazon, ni tenga miedo. Juan 14,27

I certainly thought about traveling lightly yesterday. The City of Lugo donated an apartment to Marco's community group to use as a home for women and children in need, but first of all they must pack up the lives of those who had left them behind. And one was an eighty-year-old woman who had just died, and her family wanted it all: chewed by who-knows-what varmint boxes of receipts and church programs and daily calendars with the name of a bank stamped in gold on the front cover, enough telephones to trace the entire history of this modern invention, countless jars of honey and Nutella with just one more spoonful or shampoos and lotions with just one more squeeze, and bags and bags of blankets and shoes and kitchen towels and scratchy sweaters. And of course we all considered the lilies of the valley and the birds of the air and bigger barns while we worked. And really, at many levels, all this packing and up and down stairs and lowering beds out of the window was as delightful as boating around Venice or beach days at Ravenna because of the happy spirits and goodwill of all these young men singing and laughing as they loaded up the big truck for storage in a large country farmhouse also provided by the city.

And we rode our little bikes down the street for another capuchino, where Marco soon received the good news and the bad news phone call from the city's lawyer, and it was difficult to know which was which: the city had decided to donate all of the stuff to the ministry, and by the way, all of it had been stored in the wrong empty farmhouse and needed to be moved immediately.

And Marco was unhappy because he likes things done correctly and efficiently, and this was neither, and they had worked all day Saturday as well.

But Nicole reminded us of something true, that is so true I hope to remember it all of my life. Just as the first sorting and hefting and stacking had been an act of joyous worship, so could the resorting, the re-hefting,  and the re-stacking be a joyous act of worship. If it is all done for His honor and glory, it doesn't really matter what it happens to be.

And besides, it doesn't matter how far that old farmhouse is out in the country, because now I know how to ride 100 km a day. No problem.

This is the message that has so struck pastor Chris that he has taught it over and over again these past few years, so that its truth may settle in deeply and take root and produce the fruits of love, joy and peace: we can choose each act to be an act of worship. For His honor and glory.

Whether it is crafting beautiful violins like the Penazzi grandfather, or wood oven roasted eggplant and garlic pizzas like the brothers served us last night. Or standing in a British Airways line chatting with a Las Angeles hairdresser about his awe-inspiring visit to Rome. Or not getting access to the free airport internet so I can curl up with my old friend Annie Dillard once again.

And last night after the pizza and the nice bottle of white wine and before the game of Spades, we prayed for each other and the lives we will led this next year, just out of sight around the next curve. May we each live freely in His peace and provision, and not look to the world's peace, where moth and rust and little mice do certainly corrupt.

Centered in Him and His great love. Free, free at last.

And Annie Dillard ends her book of questions about The great I AM with some words from Martin Buber: the world of ordinary days affords us that precise association. With God that redeems both us and our speck of the world. God entrusts and allots to everyone an area to redeem: this creased and feeble world, "the world in which you live, just as it is and not otherwise." Here and now, presumably, an ordinary person would approach with a holy and compassionate intention the bank and post office, the car pool, the God-help-us television, the retirement account, the car, desk, phone, and keys. "Insofar as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees his soul...he who prays and sings in holiness, eats and speaks in holiness, in holiness performs the pointed ablutions, and in holiness reflects upon his business, through him the sparks which have fallen will be uplifted, and the worlds which have fallen will be delivered and renewed."

So be it. In holiness, free, free at last.

The British Airways flight is three hours late and there are quite a few people worried about missed connections, but there is no one around to answer questions.