Monday, May 27, 2013

Reasons to Live: Gratitude, Eucharist and Life

Some Christians believe in the symbolism of Communion, of Eucharist. 
I believe in the Mystery.
Eucharist means thanksgiving 
It is an oblation, an offering.
We offer God's gift up to Him, and act of obedience to which we are called,
during Liturgy, the common act of the people. 
Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. 
His Life becomes what sustains mine.
After the past five months instead of climbing upward, I've been spiraling down. I started reaching for gratitude. Then I just tried grasping for life. I was losing. I was  being cloistered into a kind of soul-crushing isolation. This post is my act of defiance against the grip of this in my life.
 I need the Eucharist, the Mystery. 
I confess that it is no mere symbol. 
I confess that it is miraculously real, a miracle at every liturgy. 
As Rich Mullins penned in "Creed,"
  I believe that what I believe 
is what makes me what I am. 
I did not make it. No it is making me. 
It is the very Truth of God and not the invention of any man.
. Below is a TED talk I watched this morning, about John. It speaks to this confessional here.
 It's worth showing to justify what I just wrote.

And, now that I'm done writing today's confessional, I'm going to dig my fingers into the side of these "cliffs of insanity" by writing to gratitude, for even in the darkest of my emotions, there is always something to be grateful for. I was listening to last week's The Path postings this morning, after a long bike ride in the hills around Frederick, Maryland, where so many of my siblings live with their families. I was invigorated by the thumping hard-press of biking in the elevations and then showering to clean up and found this reminder that "Our thoughts do determine our lives." 

Daily Bread from Ancient Faith "Our Thoughts."

I am grateful for BK Loren's comments that it was out of the earthquake in San Fransisco, out of losing everything, that she could begin to climb out of the depression that was freezing her soul. Pick up Animal Mineral Radical if you haven't. Read it. Lots of healthy spiritual insights in the midst of her essays.

I am grateful I read that before I hit a bear and totaled a car we've owned only two weeks. When I hit the animal, it was dark and storm clouds were gathering. Lightening lit the lump of flesh dead on the side of the road, less than 30 yards from me. Because I barely got to the right side of the white line, I was out of my car in knee high grass on the highest elevations of the Northeast quarter of the PA turnpike. I called my sister, my parents, another sister, the State Police, my husband and stared at the car, hoping it would be okay, and wouldn't be pummeled by a careless driver. Lightening showed a rainbow of fluids on the pavement and both airbags had deployed. I knew in my heart it was irreparable. I knew I hit an animal, but I didn't know it was a bear. It was the officer who told me, as I gave testimony in his squad car. It was a big one, he said.

 I am grateful my mother said to me, "It's a good thing you killed that bear, Maria." If I hadn't it might have been me versus injured beast, on the side of the PA turnpike.

I am grateful for my sister Leah, who facilitated calls to get me out of the weather. She prayed a lot too. She listened to me despair and scream at God. Clergy wives minister to one another in ways that few others can. It's so nice to have yet another one in my family.

I am grateful for my father's neighbor who picked me up with all my luggage at the turnpike station at 11pm at night.

I am grateful that my father reminded me that God has always always always been faithful in job insecurity,
Canal walk in Frederick MD
sickness, sorrow, for the day that I hit that bear I learned about serious financial straits for my school, which is already in Corrective Action 3 of AYP/NCLB standards. Suffice to say, it does not look good. It looks so bad that the school is cutting staff, dropping all spouses from insurance, cutting all the extras and putting extreme pressure on us to participate in the recruitment end of our jobs. Not only do we have the pressure of AYP improvement, we need to give professional time to find more students. Furthermore, our AYP issues bloomed like gin blossoms in the form of some ethical issues for me this week. I was asked to find ways to pass seniors who haven't completed enough work to earn any credit.  Not only did my dad remind me to put faith in God, but he advised me soundly about quality, cooperation and communication. If you haven't seen the animated 1970's cartoon you may not get this affirmation of my father's greatness, but I have to say: "It's so nice to have a wolf around the house." (Enjoy below)
  1. Part One:
  2. Part Two:
I am grateful for my little sister Lydia, who listened to me weep as I learned my daughter was mourning the untimely death of a classmate on the day I was wrestling through ethics, insurance calls, the sense of uncertainty and the continued anguish my broken ankle, a second and ominous fracture for me, a woman who is post-menopausal at 37-years old. My sister gave me ears and reminders that it is okay to be not okay and to seek medical advice for all these things plaguing my mind and body.

I am grateful for Vespers at St. Paul Antiochian Church in Emmaus. It was a reader's service. I sneaked in and out. Once again, the Psalmody of Vespers left me "mourning" but the kind that lets you know not of despair but of the Beatitude promise, "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." When Tig Nitaro speaks of needing to get on stage days after her breast cancer diagnosis, it resonated. I needed to get in church. As a Christian and priest's wife, it has become so ingrained into who I am, I must be there. It saves my life. Thank you to the people there who were present and didn't know the ministry in my time of need. With them, I confessed, "Christ is Risen from the Dead. Trampling down death by death and on those in the tombs bestowing life." I walked out know life comes from God. Below are the verses from Vespers I need to hear and whisper with the readers.

I cry to the Lord with my voice,
I pray with my voice to the Lord.
I will pour out before Him my prayer,
I will tell my trouble before Him.

When my spirit departs from me,
You know my paths.
In this way that I was going,
they hid a trap for me.

I look to the right hand and watch,
but there is no one who knows me.
Escape is cut off from me,
but there is no one seeking my life.

I cried to You, O Lord, and said,
“You are my hope,
You are my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my prayer,
for I have been brought very low.
Deliver me from those who are persecuting me,
because they are stronger than I am.

Bring my soul out of prison that I may confess Your name,
 The righteous are waiting for me until You reward me.

Psalm 129 (130)

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to the cry of my prayer.
If You, O Lord, should take note of our sins, O Lord, who would survive? But with You there is forgiveness.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord, I wait for You, my soul waits for Your word, my soul hopes for the Lord,
From the morning watch until night. From the morning watch let Israel hope for the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is great redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his sins.