From the Rector’s Study
Easter IV, the Good Shepherd
May 3rd, 2020 Psalm 23 & John 10:1-10
The shepherd, the sheep and the thief are the characters for today.
The greatest trick of the thief is to say there is no God, no shepherd, that we can do it alone, and that there is no need for prayer, it doesn’t seem to do any good. We feel like we are wasting my time.
This seems to suggest the hidden nature of God. But the question which comes to mind is; where is God hidden? What is spirituality all about? The term mentioned by Earnest Kurtz is pervasive spirituality. The explanation comes from him in this story;
Some years ago a student of Twelve-step spirituality offered a presentation at the newly established Renewal Center at Haxelden, one of the oldest and most renowned centers for the treatment of alcoholism and other chemical dependancies.
As he was labouring to make his point about the pervasive nature of spirituality, one of the participants asked for an image to help her “picture” the words. “What is it like?” she asked, her expression earnest and intent. “I think I understand what you mean, but can you give me a picture?”
Momentarily stumped, the presenter sat for several frustrating minutes staring across the conference-lounge at the massive stone fireplace, so carefully fashioned out of rock deposited in the locality during Minnesota’s glacial era. Late afternoon streamed into the room, warming the stones with light. Suddenly the stones themselves came into focus-perhaps he could use them for an image! The deep reddish rocks, flecked with golden specks; the green-hued pieces, irregularly marbled in white; the many-shaded blue slabs, their shallow niches sparkling as if with silver. Which of these stones could best represent “the spiritual”?
“Physical, mental, spiritual”-the phrase reverberated in his mind, but which rocks provided the best image for each of these realities? The workshop participants, ever polite and patient, shifted quietly in the rare silence. Then, suddenly, an image came! Looking at the stones, wondering at their beauty, the presenter’s vision made one of those gestalt switches, and he saw not the individual stones but the chimney itself.
The mortar-the bland, grayish, pebbly “stuff” that held all the stones together-that was “the spiritual”! The spiritual is not some separate category, one specific type of stone or a particular stone of great beauty, but the substance that holds everything together.
“Spirituality is like that mortar in the fireplace,” he offered pensively, finally breaking the silence. “Just as the mortar makes the chimney a chimney, allowing it to stand up straight and tall and beautiful in its wholeness, ‘the spiritual’ is what makes us fully human. It holds our experiences together, shapes them into a whole, gives them meaning, allows them-and us-to be whole. Without the spiritual, however physically brave or healthy or strong we may be, however mentally smart or clever or brilliant we may be, however emotionally integrated or mature we may be, we are somehow, not “all there.”
Also God is hidden from us as we hide from ourselves. At this time, the concerns of life today and the wonder and hope for the future, make it difficult to live in the present, and say together with feeling the phrase from the psalm today: Your goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.
Maybe this is a time to get in touch with God in the present, now that we seem to have the time,
He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul *
God comes to us in the present, let us take the time to stop and pay attention to ourselves in the here and now and find enjoyment in it and God may indeed revive our souls.
Your may have other thoughts about this and you can e-mail me if you would like,