remaining in every life,
some place for the singing of angels.
which in itself
is breathless and
deep and ancient wounds
lose much of their old hurting.
all the hardness and
life is saved by
the singing of angels.
"The crowded bus, the long queue, the railway platform, the traffic
jam, the neighbor's television sets, the heavy-footed people on the floor above
you, the person who still keeps getting the wrong number on your phone. These
are the real conditions of your desert. Do not allow yourself to be irritated.
Do not try to escape. Do not postpone your prayer. Kneel down. Enter that
disturbed solitude. Let your silence be spoiled by those sounds. It is the
beginning of your desert."
Now it seems for many of us, the "preacher" is our friend, confidant, golfing buddy -- no longer "kept at a bit of a distance, like a rattler." She "plugs up the holes and makes everything smooth;" he makes as much money as us and buys his own dozen eggs and chicken dinners.
Now this is certainly more in keeping with my Quaker-ish understanding that there should be no clergy -- all Christians are called to ministry, after all. But, even in my Friend-ly experience, there are people I recognize as possessing "a certain presence, a certain authority." And while I long to be spiritual friends with them, I still approach them with a certain respect and distance.
And reading Jenkins' poem and Kruppenbach's preaching (if you have a chance, read the whole section) to his younger counterpart, I began musing if this super-friendly connection with our preachers (clergy or not) has also trickled down to our relationship with the Divine. In the same way we no longer keep our preachers at a distance and now embrace them to our hearts, thereby robbing the position of a certain bit of presence, authority, and ... dare I say it? ... danger, has that filtered down into our relationship with God. A bit too friendly and not quite wary -- as in a rattler -- enough?
I certainly preach (when invited or called to speak) of our God of love -- the One who Loves us more than we can imagine. But I still find encounters with the Divine mysterious, awesome -- and more than a bit dangerous at times.
I don't long for a return to the days of either Kruppenbach or the preachers in the poem. At least so far as how they were treated. Still, a bit of respect might not hurt -- and might help us, who so easily gaze upon the God we feel comfortable with and do not die (Exodus 33:20), step a bit more carefully into that eternal "Certain Presence, Certain Authority.