Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sacramental Moments

Sacrament - outward visible signs of inward spiritual grace to which the promise of Christ is attached.

Frederick Buechner writes about sacramental moments and describes them as times when something holy occurs.  Not only can they be sacramental rites of the church - eucharist, baptism, marriage - but they can be those blessed moments when the divine breaks through into the realm of ordinary, and graces us with the promise of Christ.

So, may I describe my sacramental moments of the past week?

JSB, currently receiving treatment in State Psychiatric Hospital, is thriving.  So says his case manager to us.  We haven't heard anyone use that word about him since perhaps when he was a baby having a well child check up.

Furball and I visit him on Sundays and are now able to take him off the hospital grounds for a three-hour pass.  Lunch at a non-institutional restaurant, some shopping, and just being together.  It's pleasant.  The three of us together doing regular things, things we haven't been able to do for years.  Things so many take for granted.

That in and of itself is sacramental.  But, foremost in my mind are two brief moments, where my heart swelled with joy and there was no question that the presence of Christ was profoundly experienced.

When we last saw JSB, I gave him a big hug.  I haven't been able to do this because for the past couple of years, he has been suffering from delusions that preclude him from loving me, let alone hugging me.  He wrapped his arms around me and said, "You're a good woman, mom."  

Five simple words left me profoundly blessed and forever grateful. 

Later that afternoon, my cell rang, and it was Pony Girl.  Pony Girl is three years younger than JSB.  Her relationship with her brother has been painful, confusing, and complicated. To ask a child to compassionately understand schizophrenic behavior is downright impossible.  It is hard enough to expect that from an adult.

She asked how he was.  I asked her if she wanted to speak to him.  They had a sweet conversation which ended by each telling the other that they missed each other.  I was in tears right there in the middle of the mall.

So, thank you, God.  For what you are doing as the Great Physician to heal JSB and the strained relationships in our family.  Thank you for breaking through time and time again.  Thank you for the lessons we have learned because of this experience; for richness and depth.  Thank you for leading us all to deeper waters and for calming the storm.

Thank you, Blessed Savior, for hope. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Unexpected Retreat

Thirty inchs of snow recently fell in my Little Burg, delivering the blessing of the teacher's favorite: Snow Days.  Several Snow Days. 

So far, we are slated to miss six days of school.  As I write, a ten- to twenty-inch snowfall presses in on us.  My non-teacher friends are not amused.  Parents of my small students are not amused.  But, I feel no guilt whatsoever.

I am delighted.

Not because I don't have to work (but, come on, who doesn't love an unexpected "Take the week off!" announcement?)  But, because I get to spend the day home bound with books, books, books.

My new favorite is Walter Brueggermann.  I've read him before, but never with the focus of the past few days.  I've been studying the prophets - especially Jeremiah - in an effort to figure out why this prophet is stalking me.  He appears in my dreams, my friends tell me that something in my life evokes a verse from Jeremiah, my prayer group prays it, he's in the lectionary one week, and then the next week even though he's not in the lectionary -- the priest preaches him.

So, Walter Brueggermann has written a lot on the prophets.  But, his gift, the one that has me doing virtual backflips is his poetic prayers.  Here's one:

A hard, deep call to obedience

You are the God who makes extravagant promises,
We relish your great promises
of fidelity
and presence
and solidarity
and we exude in them.
Only to find out, always too late,
that your promise always comes
in the midst of a hard, deep call to obedience.
You are the God who calls people like us,
and the long list of motehrs and fathers before us,
who trusted the promise long enough to keep the call.
So we give you thanks that you are a calling God,
who calls always to dangerous new places.
We pray enough of your grace and mercy among us
that we may be among those
who believe your promises enough
to respond to your call.
We pray in the one w ho embodied your promise
and enacted your call,even Jesus.  Amen.
In anticipation of reading Jeremiah 1-2/2000
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