Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Reflecting on the past couple of weeks

The last I posted I was heading off to St Gregory's Abbey in Three Rivers Michigan, for an overnight stay with the monks. I prayed one full cycle with the monks. I had a wonderful train ride on the way there, but on the way home a trip that should have taken a little over 2 hours to over 4 hours. I had books and stuff to do, so not a loss but it did sort of mess with my plans for reentry. The monks are kind enough to come and pick you up and drop you off from the Kalamazoo train station.
While I was there I reworked the notes I had for the sermon I preached on June 22nd, I am trying to turn it into a reflection article. I was using Henri Nouwen's book of prayers Heart Speaks to Heart, which are meditations on the Sacred heart of Jesus. I quoted extensively from the book in my sermon, so it felt kind of like cheating in terms of a sermon, but it seemed to work for trying to convey something I was only beginning to take in myself. As I have said elsewhere I seem to be being lead to the very edge of my own thinking and way of being, the Sermon on the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the 22nd was certainly that, so I let Nouwen lead the way. In the end the time was just a bit short. I think in the future I need to plan on being at the Abbey at least two nights. I realized that I think I need to spend sometime reflecting before I go what I am taking back with me from my time at the abbey. I found that upon my return I had to get into the flow of things so quickly that while I felt refreshed I also felt like I had begun to get at some needed things in myself but hadn't had time to articulate what they were. For reasons unclear to me keeping the communities regular praying hours has been difficult since returning from the Abbey, last time it had the opposite effect. Not sure what is going on there.

So, dove right into church things, preparations for the Clark Street Festival in which Reconciler has a booth, and various other things that I will not go into. And the community was in transition again as one of our members moved out, and trying to figure out how to fix up a studio so it is more suited to the needs to that member. I also had to change my usual pattern of sermon preparation since I was preaching again sooner than I would in our usual sermon rotation. I had only one Sunday between sermons. Now for most pastors preaching is every Sunday I feel for bi-vocational pastors who preach every Sunday. I am not sure I could pull that off. Preaching every other Sunday is difficult enough.

I also have been focusing on my iconography in the past month so have spent more time painting in the last two weeks than I have in awhile. Writing icons is a prayer and meditative discipline so it was one place that I felt I extending. I dicided to make use of a slightly different technique for icon writing this time, working with dry pigments and simply grinding paints as I go along making only enough paint for what I need at the moment. This works very well for small icons. When writing larger icons I will continue to grind my paints before hand. bellow are some images of my workspace and the icons I am working on:
at work

I also finished recently Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles. It is an well written and captivating book, and a good story. The Story of conversion is very moving, but I was left with many questions, mostly about St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I am pretty certain that Miles had a genuine conversion and here experiences of God and Jesus ring true, but partial I think because of her spiritual guides and St. Gregory's theological stance. It was also a little irritating that for the most part this spiritual memoir while purporting to try and bridge some divides in the American religio/political landscape, never seems to take orthodoxy seriously except as mere human rules that get in the way of the radical message of Jesus. I have more to say and hope to post a book review soon.