Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Splashing about in His love of chosenness.

Jesus taught his disciples, saying: ‘This is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you clothe it. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. No, set your hearts on His kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well. – Luke 12

You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions, even in yourself, even in others. And you can do so with compassion, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance. You realize that your chosenness is for the sake of letting others know they are chosen too. –Richard Rohr

So yesterday I met Pauline by the side of the church, she handed me a couple of quite full plastic bags, and we walked up the rest of steps to her car. We were meeting some Albanian kids who are part of the rather loose network of youth Padre Paco hangs out with including refugees, legal or not, and Muslims. Albanians are the floor scrubbers and bus boys and dishwashers here in Greece. One hotel bus driver picked me up on a long hot hike to the beach the other day and said he got paid 3 euros for a 15-hour day. But he still refused my tip.

Pauline had missed a bunch of birthdays when she was gone in Peru and it was catch-up time so she had a volleyball and two cakes, chocolate and apple. We hung around outside of a church in a nearby village while she texted here and there and gathered together a few thirteen-year-old girls. The boys miscommunicated and each thought he was the only boy, so we were just us girls.

And Pauline said how she first met these kids one evening on this beach, when the Padre supplied a picnic and adult supervision for a night swim. And now she hangs with these kids often; one she walked through catechism preparing for her first communion, but mostly they just laugh and giggle and talk about really important things like Johnny Depp.

And we splashed in the deep water with just a hint of waves. We ate cake and drank Coca Cola. We passed a brand new orange and white volleyball around on the black-pebbled beach, and then we hiked up the pretty steep cliffs that kids were jumping off into the twisting sea. There was a little cross marker for a fifteen-year-old who had jumped off the way top and broken his neck. And no one will ever know if it was suicide or just kid craziness.

And in between the serving and smiling, Pauline told bits of her story. And now she is at peace, not knowing the next step. A peace which permeates her presence like when she gently chatted with Federic from Nigeria while he magically wove together little thread bracelets to support his family in Athens. And yeah, he went to college but now he has to support his family.

Comfortable after all of her travels to simply be.

Be chosen for the sake of letting others know that they are chosen too.

 And at the end we dove back into the sea and watched the strawberry moon rise.

 A season for planting and a season for sowing.

So be it.


Monday, June 20, 2016

The lament of the seagulls echoes off the cliffs.

For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:6

Sunset in Santorini

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near. 
-James Montgomery

The will of God is not a 'fate' to which we submit but a creative act in our life producing something absolutely new . . . something hitherto unforeseen by the laws and established patterns. Our cooperation (seeking first the Kingdom of God) consists not solely in conforming to laws but in opening our wills out to this creative act which must be retrieved in and by us. –Thomas Merton

Strawberry moon just before sunrise

He that planted the ear, does He not hear? He that formed the eye, does He not see? He who admonishes the nations, will not punish? He who teaches all the world, has He no knowledge? The LORD knows our human thoughts: how like a puff of wind they are. Happy are they whom You instruct, O LORD! whom You teach out of Your law. Psalm 94:9-13

Let my heart be full of Your praise and Your glory all the day long. Psalm 71:8, revised by Christy

Ocean depth of happy rest!

Come let us sing to the LORD; Let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great king above all gods. In His hands are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands have molded the dry land. Psalm 95:1–5


I have the caverns dug in lava rock and the heights of the hills and the seas and the very dry land all around me. And He is indeed great. Above all gods. But sometimes it feels like His hands are all full and faraway.

But the thing about wandering around the world with Mary Anne Voelkel, is that you get what you ask for. From the Father of Lights shining down, almost before the request has made its way out of your heart and into your mouth. Sometimes even bypassing the thinking it through clearly stage.

I will call upon God, and the LORD will deliver me. In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and He will hear my voice. God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. Psalm 55:17

Like our hotel for instance. It was clean and quaint in the same way colonial hotels in Alamos, Mexico or Melgar, Colombia are clean and quaint with heavily carved wood furniture and freshly mopped Pinasol floors. And a sweet old lady offering shots of mastika, a liquor flavored with tree resin to help us with our digestion just before we trundled off to bed. And a stern old man who served us coffee each morning and we better not serve ourselves because we are his guests. And the blue pool sparkled that mystical Aegean Sea cobalt. But you couldn’t see the ocean except if you stood on tippy-toe and leaned waaaaaay over. So Mary Anne sort of complained, and there was some heartfelt lamenting in there. And what do you know, when we got back late last night, we had a What’s App text from Remco, our friendly tour dude, saying that he had arranged for us to be transferred over to Volcano View Five Star Hotel, with um, some pretty spectacular views of the Aegean Sea with a big black volcano rising out of it.

And, well, I get overwhelmed by tourist thing, long squeezed lines of hot, sweaty people filing past shops filled with beautiful handcrafted gold necklaces and flimsy white dresses with gold embroidery and imitation ancient pottery and blue and white t-shirts and blue and white refrigerator magnets and blue and white beach sandals and blue and white ouzo shot glasses and well, the harried crowd that Jesus knew so well. That crowd that He longed to bring under his arms like a mother hen. That tugged and fretted and begged right up against Him until He had to scramble into a friend’s boat and push off. And even in the midst of this He was able to pause and see. To translate Him loosely into Greek: My food is not deliciously dripping falafa gyros but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

Like Padre Francisco for instance. Padre Paco for Mexican, since he’s from Vera Cruz. The Padre carries each and every one of the 500 Catholic Christians here on Santorini right on his shirtsleeve. And he scoops up more souls to care for left and right. The beautiful French girl looking for what is next in life and the Dominican priest who teaches in St. Louis but is here to help out this summer and the gentle nun from England who has been coming back twice a year for eight years and wanders the beaches and the villages and the fields with a nice camera looped around her neck. And two weary women from Arizona who fumbled a bit through the multilingual mass.

And there is nothing like this guy’s smile. And he is working on his English and speaks Spanish and Italian and Father Jay and Sister Alice do great in English and Pauline does French and English and Spanish too because Padre Paco sent her off to Peru to teach for a year, but that was a pretty hard year. And they all change into their street clothes and we went out for pizza and wine at the local Albanian’s pizza joint because he needs someone to write a letter of invitation so he can go visit Miami next year and guess what, I write letters, and we had long conversation about powerful instruction and Second-half-of-life-people and Father McNutt and what is good and hard about Santorini and then the very tired women were “kidnapped” which brings me to Gift Poured into Wide Opened Mouth Number Three.

Yesterday, pretty randomly, Mary Anne said, “What I would like is for someone to just drive us around the island so I can get a general feel of how everything fits together.” So I talked to our travel guy and he said, “Sure, for 250 euro.” Uh, yeah.

But last night, with just a tiniest hint of asking if it was okay, Father Paco threw us into Pauline’s car and off we drove, all the way up the winding coast to the town-everyone-has-to-go-to, Oia. Where we piled out and he dragged us with great enthusiasm through the winding cobbled streets and past the beautifully lit shop windows to the restaurant that the owner’s daughter was dedicated last Sunday but things were kind of busy so we just shook hands with all the wait staff and kissed the owner on both cheeks and then we wound down to the stone overlook at the very, very end of the island and we were quiet.  Still.

And I could not stop thinking about the LORD a great God, but also our Father Who Art in Heaven. Our Abba Papa who sees us, who sees me, in the midst of the madding crowd.

And wraps His hands around me like a mother hen and whispers, “You are my mine and I hold you too in the palm of my hand. Ask, and it shall be given. Open your mouth and I will fill it.”

Quiet with only a few stars visible overhead as we wait for the full strawberry moon rising.