Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Roof.

I know I have seen this ledge before
and the voice of the Beloved calls out.
Does she scream out
weeping at arms length 
from the middle
 of the plane?
Or does she pull in close,
her toes aligned with mine
upon the narrow edge?
Does she wrap me in a tight embrace,
so close to whiff the busyness on my breath
and mourn warm tears upon my stammering lips?
-Charles Graves IV

The table at which I sat and prayed, writing the poem above.
I sat down, some days ago to talk, or more honestly to complain, about how I've found myself being pulled, or perhaps pulling myself, in so many different directions as of late. The kind sister from a local convent with whom I was meeting, after a long pause, quoted this line from the great poet Rumi.

 “Sit, be still, and listen,

because you're drunk
and we're at
the edge of the roof.”

That line has returned to my head frequently these last several days, and if I am honest, it's for good reason. It inspired me a few days later to write the poem at the beginning of this post. What is it to be busy-drunk? What is it to abuse the substance of ourselves - of myself - not with a bottle or a weapon but with a calendar, beyond a point that could truly be called "sobriety"? can one be drunk on serving God? Does ministry contain some toxin that causes one to stagger on the metaphorical rooftop ledge? 

If I'm honest with myself - If I am honest with God - the answer on some days is clear. I am blessed overwhelmingly, immeasurably, to love so many things. I have a workplace and a position that I truly enjoy, that brims with opportunities to serve God in the world around me. And I am blessed with great flexibility, with incredible friends with whom to relax, with a marvelous loving family, with the care of a brilliant spiritual director, and countless resources to keep me wisely on an even keel. All told, the state of my spiritual union is very strong.

But in the boundless world of ministry, there is always the siren call of just one more thing. One more activity, one more meeting, one more project, one more hour, one more day. Likewise for clergy and lay, for ministers and for ministers. "Boundaries" we say time and again "are essential". The saying is true, but it's much more than simple boundaries. It's the art of slowing down, of learning to "be" rather than always to "do". It's the anonymous prayer that hangs on my wall since my first year of seminary:
Slow me down Lord,
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace
with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.
Help me to know the magical
restoring power of sleep. 

Teach me the art 
of taking minute vacations - 
of slowing down to look at a flower
to chat with a friend
to pat a dog
to read a few lines from a good book.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me 
to send my roots deep into the soil
of life's enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars

of my greater destiny. 

No comments:

Post a Comment