Open doors

Feb. 12th, 2016 02:52 pm
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For Catholics this is the Year of Mercy, and in honor of it, special doors are standing open at cathedrals and major churches throughout the world, doors that are usually closed. There are red carpets, lintel inscriptions, ceremonies, pilgrimages. The doors are meant to be a promise of openness from our church, and an invitation to form or reform our relationship with God.

My dear little church isn't important enough to have such a door. Its not a cathedral. It's not a major landmark on the tourist trail. It's just a bright, airy place, recently renovated, with a community still growing into its new shape. We're just getting used to the new stained glass windows, and the walled garden is only now underway where there used to be waste ground. My pastor tweeted a picture of it this morning, all sand and dirt and new-laid paving stones.

Gardens. You can tell the core of the Christian narrative, the story arc of mercy, in three gardens: Eden, Gethsemane, and the garden with the empty tomb. And Lent is the time to work on the gardens of our hearts, to weed out the bad and prepare a space for the good, for the bright blooming of Easter. Even leaving aside seasonal considerations, it's a fitting time to be building the garden of our church.

I had an extra errand to run today before Mass (I go when I can; our daily Mass is luminous). So instead of approaching the building from the front, as I usually do, I cycled to it from the back, where the door to the garden stood open behind piles of sand and mulch.

I nearly fell off my bike, there behind my simple suburban church. The door. To the garden. Stood open.

Notions of importance and ceremonies aside, lintels and carpets notwithstanding, may the doors you seek be open, and admit you to the gardens you need to spend time in this Lent.



Voor katholieken is dit het Jaar van Barmhartigheid, ter ere waarvan speciale deuren openstaan in kathedralen en hoofdkerken overal ter wereld, deuren die anders gesloten blijven. Daar liggen de tapijten, daar vind je de inscripties op de bovendrempel, de plechtige vieringen, de bedevaarten. De deuren zijn bedoeld als aan belofte van openheid vanuit onze kerk, en een uitnodiging om onze relatie met God vorm te geven of te hervormen.

Mijn dierbare bescheiden kerk is niet belangrijk genoeg om zo'n deur te hebben. Zij is geen kathedraal. Zij is geen 'landmark' in het toeristische spoor. Zij is slechts een lumineuze, ijle plaats, kort geleden gerenoveerd, met een gemeenschap die nog steeds groeit in haar nieuwe gedaante. We raken gewend aan de nieuwe gebrandschilderde ramen, en de ommuurde tuin, waar woeste grond was, is eerst nu in ontwikkeling. Mijn pastor tweette vanmorgen daarvan een foto, zand en aarde en nieuw gelegde tegels.

Tuinen. Je kunt het hart van de Christelijke vertelling, de verhaalboog van barmhartigheid, in drie tuinen vertellen: Eden, Getsemane, en de tuin met het lege graf. En de Vasten is de tijd om te werken in de tuinen van onze harten, om het slechte uit te trekken en een plaats te bereiden voor het goede, voor de schitterende bloei van Pasen. Zelfs wanneer je de seizoensgebonden overwegingen terzijde laat, is het een geschikte tijd om te bouwen aan de tuin van onze kerk.

Vandaag moest ik nog een boodschap doen voor de Mis (ik ga wanneer ik kan; onze dagelijkse Mis is lichtend). In plaats van het gebouw aan de voorkant te naderen, zoals ik gewoon ben, kwam ik aanfietsen vanaf de achterzijde, waar achter hopen zand en schelpen de deur naar de tuin openstond.

Bijna viel ik van mijn fiets, daar achter mijn eenvoudige, suburban kerk. De deur. Naar de tuin. Stond open.

Alle noties van belangrijkheid en ceremonies terzijde geschoven, bovendorpels en tapijten ten spijt, mogen de deuren die je zoekt openstaan, en jou binnenvoeren in de tuinen die je nodig hebt om deze vastentijd in te verwijlen.

(translated into Dutch by Fr. Nico van der Peet for our parish website)
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"Chop wood, carry water, pray" is a descriptor of practical religious practice that appeals to me quite strongly.

"O fire-feeding corpse of fallen tree,
Which now my granite-sharpened axe doth hew
(And may it cut like Justice, straight and true):
I praise thy Maker as I'm chopping thee."
"O swiftly-flowing water, bright and clear,
Containéd in my pot like Grace once poured
Into a human soul by our dear Lord:
May thou be twice as sweet, though half as dear."
The bell for Vespers rings. I calmly kneel,
Not praying, really, just inventing praise.
But then the silence comes, and phrase by phrase
Reclaims my wasted words, and makes them real.
And thus the evening justifies the day:
I learn to chop wood, carry water, pray.

I posted this a while ago on Making Light, but somehow missed it in my mass transfer of sonnets to LJ. Found myself looking for it the other day, so here it is in my archive.
evilrooster: (Default)
"Chop wood, carry water, pray" is a descriptor of practical religious practice that appeals to me quite strongly.

"O fire-feeding corpse of fallen tree,
Which now my granite-sharpened axe doth hew
(And may it cut like Justice, straight and true):
I praise thy Maker as I'm chopping thee."
"O swiftly-flowing water, bright and clear,
Containéd in my pot like Grace once poured
Into a human soul by our dear Lord:
May thou be twice as sweet, though half as dear."
The bell for Vespers rings. I calmly kneel,
Not praying, really, just inventing praise.
But then the silence comes, and phrase by phrase
Reclaims my wasted words, and makes them real.
And thus the evening justifies the day:
I learn to chop wood, carry water, pray.

I posted this a while ago on Making Light, but somehow missed it in my mass transfer of sonnets to LJ. Found myself looking for it the other day, so here it is in my archive.
evilrooster: (Default)
O Melchior, you brought me gifts of gold
To make a crown that you refuse to see:
You hide your eyes lest kingship make me bold,
Seduce me on the heights, corrupting me.
And Balthasar, who gave me frankincense,
Is deaf to my pronouncements. Are your fears
That I'd usurp my Father so intense
That cowering, you cover up your ears?
My Caspar, bringing myrrh, forshadows loss
And closes fast his mouth, unreconciled
To thoughts of death, the shadow of the cross:
A monstrous gift to bring a newborn child.
My kings, this all was planned, and you might trust
I'll do not what I choose, but what I must.

(The three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil; crossed with the Three Wise Men.  Originally posted on Making Light.)
evilrooster: (Default)
O Melchior, you brought me gifts of gold
To make a crown that you refuse to see:
You hide your eyes lest kingship make me bold,
Seduce me on the heights, corrupting me.
And Balthasar, who gave me frankincense,
Is deaf to my pronouncements. Are your fears
That I'd usurp my Father so intense
That cowering, you cover up your ears?
My Caspar, bringing myrrh, forshadows loss
And closes fast his mouth, unreconciled
To thoughts of death, the shadow of the cross:
A monstrous gift to bring a newborn child.
My kings, this all was planned, and you might trust
I'll do not what I choose, but what I must.

(The three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil; crossed with the Three Wise Men.  Originally posted on Making Light.)

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