Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Even at the Grave we make our song Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Happy Easter! The season of life and hope and resurrection continues past Easter day. I am grateful to be part of the section of Christendom that recognizes that. I like following a liturgical calendar which tells me that Easter season is 50 days long and that yesterday was the feast day of St. Phillip and St. James. Although I did not greet that news with great joy when the alarm clock went off at 5 am so I could get up in time to do the 6:30 am Communion service at my church. Ugh. I am so not an early morning girl! These days I'm not sure what time of day I'm at my best. There's about an hour between 10:30 am and 11:30 am that I don't feel like I have a blood disorder, but the rest of the day I am so sleepy. I'm chalking it up to allergies, because I think all evil in the world has at its root the wicked hand of snot producing tear duct swelling wheezy lung infested immune systems that over function all spring...and winter...and fall. Hand me a Kleenex and a sledge hammer to bang on my head...but, I digress. (PS I don't really think that allergies are the root of all evil...and I am acutely aware that my health could be much much worse...I'm just sayin'...) OK I'm back.

The liturgical calendar helps me (and you too I hope) see time a bit differently. It helps me slow down in a way. While the stores at the mall are about to put up the 4th of July shorts and tankinis, the liturgical calendar helps us remember that it's still Easter season and that we should embrace that. Unfortunately, I and most everyone I know runs at breakneck speed even when following the liturgical calendar. So perhaps that's why I only feel truly wide awake about 1 hour a day. (But I still have my allergies and choose to blame them.)

I wish that I had slowed down more during the most reason season of Lent. In my March post I quoted my dear friend Bill Green. He was the one who always made that joke about giving up riding in submarines for Lent, and I really did laugh every time he said he because he took such delight in saying it. And when I posted that story and reflection in March I heard a voice in my head say over and over, "you should call Bill and tell him that you quoted him...tell him that you are thinking of him." And of course, the pressure of managing a church and reading and teaching and preaching and scratching my eyes out every day because of the pollen and generally living my life overwhelmed me to such a degree that I never took the time to call or write. And you know how this story ends.

During Holy Week I received a call that dear, kind, crabby, brilliant, frail, ornery, wonderful Bill Green had died. His wife asked that I be a pall bearer at his funeral on Easter Monday. And for a long time after she asked me over the phone, there was a profound silence. My heart still aches at the loss of this man from my (and so many other people's lives) and my mind still reels that such an honor was bestowed upon who didn't take the time to call or write this year. Bill would think my guilt a foolish waste of time, so I'm trying to "snap out of that" as quickly as I can, but I'm not there yet.

I'm hoping that I can use this experience to remind myself....for like the 10,000th time...what truly matters. I'm hoping that I will take opportunities to tell people that I'm thinking of them, tell people that I love them, when I have the chance. There's that wonderfully poetic John Mayer song, "Say what you mean to say" that also reminds me to say I love you when I've got the change (PSS I try to keep John Mayer's personal life and assorted hateful tirades separate from the lyrics to his music). So, if you are one of the 3 people who read my blog chances are you are indeed people that I love. I hope that each of us, whether we use a liturgical calendar or not can find ways to pace ourselves such that we never ignore the love that's all around us, including taking the time to tell God who loves us always even at our death, thank you. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The following is an excerpt from Bill's obituary:

William Baillie Green, professor emeritus of theology died April 19 in Austin. Bill joined the faculty of Seminary of the Southwest in 1970 as associate professor of theology and retired as the Clinton S. Quin Professor of Systematic Theology. Bill served as assisting clergy for years at Church of the Good Shepherd, Austin and canon theologian for the diocese of Dallas.

In the mid-1970's, Bill became interested in ecumenical conversations with the Eastern churches, and was soon after invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to represent the Episcopal Church in the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue. During his nearly thirty years in this capacity, part of which he served as the sole Episcopal Church representative, he has worked with some of the great theological minds of our time, including Michael Ramsey, Rowan Williams, Kallistos Ware, and John Zizioulas...Dr. Green fought to keep Anglicans and the Orthodox moving toward a shared faith and a shared table.

Upon his retirement from teaching in 1999, Dr. Green's sermons and prayers were published in a collection titled Ask, Seek, Knock. One of the prayers included in the collection is a prayer Dr. Green wrote for Lent:

O Eternal Lord, the first and the last: We whose lives are so full of poor beginnings and bad endings turn to thee that our souls may be restored and our strength renewed. Keep us from demanding that perfection which life never promises, or from claiming exemption from that suffering which is the lot of all. Show us, whatever befalls, that thy grace is sufficient and that nothing can separate us from thy love revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen