Monday, September 28, 2009

time sandwich

Dean left on a business trip this morning at 4:30 am. This leaves me and Jazz unsupervised with knives and video cameras within easy reach. You can understand why it is important to have constructive tasks to keep us occupied while he is gone.

No worries. I have a retreat to organise this weekend which will include planning a menu and buying groceries for 18 people as well as preparing a talk on "What are We Looking For?" There are also the usual readings and assignments in the next few days, several hours of office work tomorrow, regular household tasks, and I hope to take in a movie and coffee with friends as time allows. Jazz, I am sure, has an agenda packed with personal grooming, a litter box quota to fill, toys to stuff into small spaces, and meowing and pacing drills to practise.

On a totally different topic, this is what I was thinking about yesterday while preparing my heart and my head for taking communion.

Remember. This is what the Israelites were always being told to do. Remember the God who brought you out of Egypt. Jesus told his disciples the same thing at the last meal they shared. Remember me. There is something very important about not forgetting the faithfulness, the presence, and the intervention of God that we have witnessed in our lives and that we see in the lives of others. It reminds us that we are not alone and that things are never hopeless. We do well to remember the sweet embraces and bittersweet wrestling encounters with the living God and to do it regularly. It puts things in perspective. It keeps our faith healthy.

Imagine. Often in the middle of one of my panicky moments, or during an emotional meltdown, or while having a less than mature reaction to some situation, I hear a small voice ask me, "Would you like to see what is it like to live without this weakness in your life?" Sigh. Yes, yes I would. If I can imagine what life would be like without selfish compulsions, without fear and frustration and greediness, then I am halfway to surrendering to that better way. If I can imagine what the goodness of God looks like in this world and in my life (not fantasy, mind you, but actual down-to-earth goodness), then I am more likely to see it and participate in it. If I can imagine that God can and will act on my behalf because it is in his nature to be generous and loving and just, then I have just given birth to hope. Imagination lets me walk away from my current failure. Imagination lets me look forward to God's good purposes.

In-between this remembering and the imagining, there is the now, the present. It is often a place of tension where I try not to dwell on past things too much (either the good old days or that horrible thing I never want to live through again) and keep myself from fantasizing and daydreaming about things magically working out without my ever lifting a finger or doing the hard work of surrender and staying on course. It is the joy of endless possibilities and the angst of nothing ever being finished. But it is where I live, and I have learned to love this in-between place and to invest it with passion so that the richness can be squeezed from it.

This "remember<imagine>sandwich" is what communion is all about. We cannot forget that Jesus came and that changed everything (hello, Life!). Body and blood. Sip, chew. We must imagine and dream with hope about all that the Father has yet to reveal to those he loves (that's this whole world). Restoration and wholeness. Sip, chew. And in the present, saying yes to the sacrifice of Jesus brings renewing energy that gives me courage and comfort - Spirit. Sip, chew.

Let me enjoy this sandwich of faith, hope, and love every day.
This is the historical Admiralty Arch in the background, a London cab waiting for a fare in front, and some walking tourists sandwiched in-between.

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