We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place
for the first time.
~ T.S. Eliot
Tuesdays Theme: Words of Our Faith
As I make my way to Bethlehem, as I am making my way through the living of these 2020 pandemic days, I am grateful for so many words that guide my faith. And hope. And love. Mystery and majesty. Grace upon grace. For as long as I can remember I have been held in an understanding of God’s time. This sense of time that holds the past, present and future all at once. There is a wisdom in that. There's a perspective that helps move through the living of my days in times of light and shadow.
For all that was…Much like the cairns found marking the side of the road, I feel the comfort from these words, “someone has been here before.” There is a rootedness that holds me when the strong winds blow. As I lean into the words of “all the was,” I have a sense of history that affirms moments when I feel as though I am making my way without a map or a compass. Here I am reminded that there has been someone here who has lived through something similar. These words hold hope and strength for me, “If they made it through, so can I.”
For all that is…Years ago when I was part of a group of clergy traveling through Israel I had a sense of being in the present moment like I’d never experienced before. There is a church on the northern shore of the Galilee that has windows looking out over the water. Our group gathered in that space, singing hymns and sharing communion. Much like my then-home church in Atlanta with windows looking out over the trees, I had a body-knowing of my faith being alive across time and space. The prayers, hymns, bread and cup were alive in the moment. Communion in Capernaum, communion in Atlanta. A moment in time.
For all that will be…Now nine months into COVID’s pandemic, it’s hard sometimes to imagine what gathering for worship will look like in the future. How will we sing the hymns? Share communion? Pass the peace? How will we be in worship together? And holding me in place when I feel like I am floating off into space is the grounding of my faith: I am who I am. God, Emmanuel, is with us. The future is not yet here, there is no sense in trying to name and claim it. It has not yet arrived. My faith encourages me to “have faith.” We will know what we know when we know it. It is not for us to know now. I know this can sound like dancing around an answer, but I don’t believe that it is. That’s just the truth of it.
T. S. Eliot’s words speak to the not-knowing and the not-needing-to know. They speak to faith that holds time and is not bound by it. They speak to hope that knows our story with a peace beyond our understanding. These words speak to love that leans into the YES that comes with each sunrise. Now and not yet – held as one.
Thanks, Sam Ellis for this picture
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.