Solitude

I woke up this Sunday morning at 5:00 AM, Sitka time, which means I got seven hours of sound sleep, surprising since I’d slept two solid hours yesterday afternoon. I hadn’t intended to but I realized as I started to walk to the Hames Center to work out on their new machines, that I was really too tired and so back-tracked to the organic Cafe in town, North Sister, to drink a Cacoa smoothie. When I felt better, I proceeded to Hames only to discover that it was closing  which was just as well. Meanwhile I got in a good walk.  Gratitude was my first thought upon awakening, thankful for the rest I obviously needed but my mind moved quickly to other causes for this state of thankfulness:  Emails from “Charlie” (my petite poet) yesterday afternoon and again this morning expressing her love forms a backdrop to everything else I’m about. There is such a welcome security in the knowledge of our mutual love for each other. I almost gasp at the wonder of it especially given the context. Today is my 67th wedding anniversary (Yes, on Sunday, September 9, 1951, Joan and I were married at my home church, the First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio, by my dear friend and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Roy Burkhart). That “Jobie” and “Burkie” both welcome this new relationship with “Charlie” I have not the slightest doubt. They would honor it as I do. It is certain, sacred and true.

Other people and events prompt my gratitude. Kornelia, of course, always there, a soulmate, urging me on, wanting the best for me and delighted in my connection with “Charlie”. And then, there’s this space, this small, cozy apartment with a view, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. It has become sort of a retreat house for me, a place to experience a productive solitude, thinking and writing my way to a new level of understanding. I’m so grateful to the owner, Mary Chambers, for making it available to me. And then last evening, talking with my eldest son, John, and his wife, Beth, over pizza and salad at the Mean Queen restaurant, a popular hang-out of the young and buzzing with energy on a Saturday night. What fun. Among other things, it gave me a chance to try to articulate my story and where I am on my journey and what I want which is becoming clearer and clearer. I want to live a life of joy. Nothing less. Bishop Tutu and the Dali Lama are two good examples of what I’m talking about (read “The Book of Joy”). Unconditional love is part of the equation, of course, as is a constant connection to the real world, but joy is the goal, a constant joy stemming from a center of peace and calm. I stress that this is a goal, not yet achieved but now I see, is possible, given our capacities as the magnificent human beings we are, made in the very image of God.

This space, “Chambers’ Chambers” is also giving me time to research and examine a whole new way to see Jesus, not as an object of worship, not as divine being, but as a brother and friend. The church itself has defined Jesus as fully divine-fully human. I’m now taking the “fully human” part seriously, particularly as it relates to his sexuality and his relation to Mary Magdalene. This, in turn, frees me up to consider Jesus from the standpoint of his awareness or level of consciousness, to me a whole new way, a deeper way, to think about him. Over the pizza last night, John, Beth and I talked a little bit about “atheism” among the young. As I ponder the issue, I’m inclined to think that atheism is more a reaction to institutional religion than it is to its inherent spirituality. Seeing Jesus now in his own right, separate from how the church has defined him, gives me renewed hope. I actually find myself excited about what I’m discovering. I’m thankful here for Fr. Rohr and a member of his faculty, Cynthia Bourgeault, who has written “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene”.(Shambhala Press, Boulder, 2010).

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