Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Checking back in...

Please forgive me for my extended absence. I've allowed the distractions of life to hold my attention while neglecting this form of communication with my spiritual friends. Just a few notes to touch base with everyone. I've finished my second year of Divinity School at Vanderbilt, and have one more year to go. I've been working all summer on my out-of-parish field education credit which has been centered on volunteer work to help Nashville recover from the historic flood of May 2010. I have seen and heard many heartbreaking things over the past months, and I'm thankful for my Centering Prayer discipline which has helped me listen to a lot of hurts, questions and anger.

I use to try and rationalize all the difficulties of the world and find scapegoats on which to blame such tragedies, but through the deep solidarity contemplation has developed in me, I've found it much easier to avoid the troubling questions of theodicy. I have discovered more joy in relating to people in the midst of tribulations and helping them recover through simple acts of manual labor and emotional support. My restful practice has noticeably nurtured my active discipleship!

Also, I just got back from a trip to San Francisco where I took some time to visit several sacred spaces. I visited Glide Memorial UMC, Howard Thurman's Church for the Fellowship of all the People, St. Peter and Paul's Church, Grace Cathedral, Old St. Mary's Cathedral, St. Patrick's Church, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It was a thrill to see all these sacred spots. My most memorable experience was at Grace Cathedral. I had the joy of walking the indoor labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. I also did a Centering Prayer session in the pew of the sanctuary. It was nice to steal away from the busy city and find some solitude in this large vaulted cathedral. It was also special sitting outside The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. I took a class last year entitle Liberation & Spirituality in which we studied Thurman and read his autobiography. It was moving to be at the spot I had read so much about! Unfortunately, the church was closed when I visited it, but I did create a mini centering moment outside by the flower bed!

I hope that the coming year will be less busy; drop me an email or post a "loving" Facebook message on my wall if I make myself too absent again! :-)

Blessings for the remainder of all your summers.



RC said...

Great to have you back! Thank you for this lovely post. Wish I could have been with you visiting those sacred spaces. From what I could pick up from the media, that spring flood in Nashville sounded horrific--your ministry to the practical needs there is what I often think of as "the real work." So often the church serves itself and/or meets pseudo needs. Again, great to have you back! I'm so grateful for your contribution to our community.

Paul Corrigan said...

It is indeed good to hear about these positive developments and deepenings for you.

I too walked the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Fransisco, about three years ago. I'm glad to share this experience with you.

I look forward to continuing our journey together through Living Stones.

living stones said...

Mark, it's so good to hear your voice again in this space--welcome back!

I like how you said,"My restful practice has noticeably nurtured my active discipleship!" It seems to me this is the way things should work; silence influencing action. No hype, no drama--just simple acts flowing out of the grace received in prayer. Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm glad for your trip to San Francisco. I'm delighted to hear about your special visits to sacred spaces. Thanks again for sharing.

John Orzechowski said...

Mark, thank you for sharing with us. I think this type of spiritual narrative is so interesting and meaningful to read. Your account of, as Anna put it, "silence influencing action," is very encouraging to me, as is your simple commitment to be Christ-like and to serve those in need rather than worrying (too much) over questions of why such tragedies happen in the first place.

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