Sunday, January 27, 2013

What is a "Canon to the Ordinary" anyway?

1.    An ecclesiastical rule or law adopted by General Convention or by Diocesan Convention.
2.    A member of the clergy, or less often a lay person, on the staff of a cathedral or of a bishop

Canon to the Ordinary
A canon who is specific to the Bishop's office; a staff officer who performs tasks as assigned by the Ordinary, or Diocesan Bishop. 

"Our "Canons to the Ordinary" will work as a team with me and Steve Abdow and each will have particular areas of responsibility. Their duties will include congregational development, campus ministry, pastoral care of the clergy, on-going education, urban ministry, collaboration among churches and social agencies, working with Ed Farrell on deployment, social justice and prophetic leadership, ecumenical relationships, oversight of our Missioners, support for our missionaries, visions of a new church, strategic planning, development of lay ministry, use of new forms of communication to convey the Gospel and a commitment to prayer. This is the short list. Our dynamic God will constantly reveal new possibilities." (Bishop Douglas Fisher, "Staff Transitions," January 18, 2013)

As readers of this blog know, I have accepted a position to serve on the executive staff of the Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher. I'll be leaving St. Francis at the end of May to become one of two Canons to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. People keep asking me: so what exactly is a "Canon to the Ordinary?" So, then, from top to bottom...

Episcopalians do like having our own vocabulary! Among ourselves we sometimes argue over whether it is "cute" or "off-putting." Even other mainline Christians sometimes wonder what on earth we are talking about when we tell them that something is "in the narthex" (my spellchecker alerts me even as I write that word that it is not a word!) or that the verger will show them where to go. And of course this is also true for a Canon to the Ordinary, as the cartoon humorously notes. Even so, and even in an ever-changing Church, these names do mean something.

A canon (at least as far as my new job is concerned) is related to the second definition given above. (That is, I am not becoming an ecclesiastical rule or law!) Rather I am a member of the clergy...who will be joining the bishop's staff. I hope not to be a "mediocre" canon, so not just your ordinary canon. Rather, I'll be working for "the Ordinary."

Say what? Think of similar words that ordinary shares its root meaning with: words like ordinal and ordination, for example. The Latin word ordinarius means an overseer: someone who keeps (or tries to keep) order. The Ordinary is the Diocesan Bishop! Therefore, a Canon to the Ordinary is a person who directly answers to the Bishop. Simple, eh? (In the military, which has its own quirky language, you might say this is similar to the job of an Executive Officer, or XO.)

So now that that is cleared up: what will I (and my colleague, the Rev. Pamela Mott) be doing? Simply put: what the Bishop asks us to do! But in his announcement, Bishop Fisher gave some ideas of the kinds of things that he expects Pam and I to spend our time doing with our time. All of that as I understand it is about working with God and God's people to further God's mission. Even as I read that announcement myself from the Bishop I was going along fine with all we had talked about until I read his words: this is the short list! Yikes!

But of course the line that follows is right and ultimately crucial: we do have a dynamic God and it is true that God is always revealing new possibilities. Our main job will be to keep trying to pay attention to what God is doing in the world and in the Church, and then work at that and adapt to that. We hope to model collaboration, because we believe that ministry requires that we work together. If we are to ask congregations and clergy and laity to collaborate, then we will need to be modeling that ourselves. So we have the same title and we hope to be able to do many things together, although we'll also each end up with some specific responsibilities as well.

I am excited and truly looking forward to it. One comment I've gotten from a number of people in my parish is that they thought I might be drawn to academia because I do so love teaching. I also love preaching, and this takes me out of a community where I can be in an extended "conversation" with people from the pulpit.

My sense, however, is that there is teaching (or at least "coaching") involved in this work: or better still that it is an extension of the work of doing Christian formation, which has gone to the heart of my passion for ministry in all of the jobs I have held in the Church to date. And I do hope that I will be able to keep preaching. It's the primary way I reflect theologically, and I'm hoping opportunities will emerge to keep at it, even though I know that it will take a different shape as more of a "guest" than as pastor in those places where I am invited to speak God's Word.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ordination Sermon

Eight years ago yesterday I preached the sermon at my friend Phil LaBelle's ordination. (It was also the Baptism of his son, Noah.) It was a wild weather day and Hathy and I drove through blizzard conditions in Connecticut to be there. But we made it and it was a wonderful occasion. Yesterday Phil reprinted that sermon on his blog, which can be found here.

Sometimes I have the experience of reading things I preached a decade or so ago or more (or sometimes even just last week!) and I think "what on earth was I thinking?" But while this sermon was probably too long for a snowy day (they were gracious and kind to hang in there with me all the way through) there is one section of it that I definitely still believe and want to keep preaching. It comes at the end:
I think of our old friend, Frederick Buechner, who as you know defines “vocation” as that place where one’s “deep gladness” meets “the needs of this world.” Surely that is what we—the Church—have affirmed in you since you first began to hear God’s calling to this ministry. I pray that always for you there will be “deep gladness” in this work, for we are all too aware that the needs of both the Church and the world are very great indeed.
I remember when I was ordained that the saddest moments for me were when these older priests would say, “if I had it to do over again I’d find something else.” I know far too many clergy—and you probably do too—who are depressed and unfulfilled in their work. They are not bad people, but they are sad people with long lists of grievances.
So let me say in closing—as an “old veteran” priest—that there is nothing I would rather be doing with my life than to be a priest in Christ’s Church—and in particular to be an Episcopal priest at this time in our still unfolding history. There is no doubt that the work is at times difficult and challenging, but it comes with its own rewards.
And the joy we share with all God’s people goes deeper still than anything else—leading us beyond the Cross and to the empty tomb and to a person—the One whom we keep meeting on the Road to Emmaus, or the Road to Darien. The One whose voice we hear when our hearts burn, and we encounter the Word of the Lord in Holy Scripture. The One whom we beg to stay with us and eat, for evening is at hand. The One whom we see revealed in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup.

So keep your eyes and your ears and your heart wide open! And keep pointing to Jesus—in your work as preacher, pastor, and priest. Keep pointing to Jesus—and all will be well.
I still feel that way and if it is true that preachers are always talking to themselves, trying to convert themselves, then these words in particular speak to me as I prepare for a new opportunity to serve God and God's people. While the context for my priestly ministry will soon be changing from parish to diocese, I still feel the same way about the work of being a priest: it is still a place where I still feel my own deep gladness intersecting with the needs of the world.

And I still think the work is about pointing beyond ourselves, to Jesus, trusting that "all will be well." 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I recently announced to my parish, St. Francis Church, that I will be leaving as rector after fifteen years to accept a position to serve on the Bishop's Staff in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. That announcement can be found here.

I've been asked by several people if I will continue to blog. Yes, indeed. Although this past week or so I've felt emotionally wiped, and that has adversely affected my blogging, I do expect that my thoughts and prayers over the course of the next few months will be about being in that "in between" place. I will be saying goodbyes to a congregation that I have loved greatly, and they've paid me the great honor of loving me back. And already there are "pulls" toward Springfield and my new duties, which I welcome, but at the moment it feels daunting. So it is a liminal place for me and I'm sure there will be posts that emerge from that in-between place.

And then I'll be transitioning into a new kind of ministry and I'm sure there will be much to say as that begins to take hold. All of that in due time. But yes, while the context of my ministry will be changing, my desire to reflect theologically in a public way on the gospel and culture will continue. So please stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Martin

In the church calendar, we remember the "holy women, holy men" who have gone before us as lights in their generation on the day that they died. And so we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. Next Monday, on the third Monday of January, we'll have a long weekend and a chance to commemorate King's life as a nation. But it was, more precisely, on this day, January 15, 1929, that King was born in Atlanta, Georgia.

I had an Ethics professor in seminary, Ed Long, who gave us a hypothetical question to ponder. I can no longer remember for sure if it was an essay on an exam or just a classroom conversation, but it's stayed with me for all these many years since. The question was, if you were MLK and had been asked by Lyndon Johnson to join the Cabinet as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare - would you have accepted the position? Why or why not?

Ed wanted us to wrestle with how you best effect change. In the case of a seminary classroom, he was asking future clergy to think about the Church and its relationship to the larger society. Where does the Church stand, and what is gained (and lost) when you become part of "the system?" Conversely, what is gained and lost when the only strategy for change is to stand on the outside and protest?

How to be "salt and light and yeast?" By getting more Christians into government? Or by recovering the prophetic voice and challenging the powers-that-be to "let righteousness flow like an everflowing stream?" Of course the answer is probably "both" or "it depends" which is why it remains, for me, such a great question.

But surely King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail remains profoundly relevant not only in getting clearer about the ways that King himself might have answered Ed Long's question, but about how we, too, can wrestle with these issues today There is a tendency that I see in myself (that clearly those whom King addresses in this letter also had) to confuse "keeping the peace" with being "instruments of God's peace."  To engage in the latter means that we cannot get to peace without justice, and you cannot get to justice (and reconciliation) without some conflict along the way. "Crying peace where there is no peace" is not the way forward. These words, then, on the occasion of his birth, still seem relevant to me.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fifteen Years Later

Twenty years ago - in 1993 - I was in the process of making a major life transition. Sometime earlier, I had approached the Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Walmsley, about making a move from The United Methodist Church to The Episcopal Church. I had been an ordained United Methodist pastor since 1988, but as an ecumenical campus minister my family had found a home in TEC on Sunday mornings. I came to believe I could be a more faithful Wesleyan Christian as an Episcopal priest than as a United Methodist pastor and I will always be grateful to Arthur for making that transition possible, and relatively painless.

He did ask one thing of me, however. I did not have to go back to seminary, but he wanted me in an Episcopal parish where I could learn something practical about my new denomination. He wanted me to be, as we said in the old days, a "curate." Now this sounds easy enough except that I liked being a campus minister. And I was nervous about parish ministry. Nevertheless, in the late summer of 1993 - nearly twenty years ago - I arrived at Christ and Holy Trinity, Westport as "a baby priest."

I didn't really know that term but when I met Pete Powell he made sure I knew that I was in fact a "baby priest." He took me under his wing. He was not the rector, but a priest running the homeless shelter and a great teacher, and the rector asked him to help me out. Early on, I asked him something about when we were "robing" for worship and he looked at me and tilted his head and said: "Methodists may robe, Rich...but Episcopalians vest!"

He scared me a little. (Alright, he scared me a lot!) But he also taught me a lot: not just about vesting and liturgy but about preaching, and teaching and taking people seriously in parish ministry. And before long we had became good friends. Among other things we shared a deep love for the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. But we also shared a certain kind of vision for what the Church could be. And so fifteen years ago when I left Westport to become the rector of St. Francis, it took me all of about ten minutes to decide on who the preacher should be at my "Celebration of New Ministry."

I came to Holden in February 1998. Pete and I have, ever since, continued to meet for lunch two or three times a year in Hartford - about halfway between Holden and Westport. Yesterday as we shared a meal and conversation together I asked him if he still had a copy of the sermon he preached at my institution. Of course he did. It was, as I had remembered, a great sermon; but as is his style the first half was a bit academic - setting the table as it were. The sermon built on that and finished strong, and with his permission I share the second part of it here. As I celebrate fifteen years as rector of St. Francis, I am mindful of the many ways that we have been "fleshing this out" along the way, and for that I am deeply grateful. These words, then, from the Rev. Dr. Peter Powell.
Now I leap to today. Pluralism is a reality in American culture. We frequently hear parents say that for instance: They would like their children to be in church and have a religious education, but the swim team, soccer team, hockey team, baseball team can only get the pool, field, or rink at this time, and sports are so good for kids after all.
Or we hear parents say that for instance: I would like for my child to be more active in church, but kids are so tightly scheduled today that she or he just doesn’t have the time to be there as much as you’re expecting. After all dance lessons, French lessons, SAT preparation classes, piano lessons, and on and on demand so much time. Church just has to fit in.
Or we hear parents say that for instance: I would like for my children to be regular in Sunday School and learn about their faith, but Sunday morning is the only morning my husband and I have together with the kids and some days we just can’t rush and get to church.
Or we hear parents say that for instance: Joey would come to the youth group if it were just more fun. Last time only 3 other kids came and none of them were Joey’s pals. And they played stupid games and talked about not drinking, or safe sex and he felt awkward. When I was a kid youth groups were fun. We ate pizza and went skiing. Why can’t they be like they were when I was a kid?
Or we hear couples say that I don’t want to impose my tradition on my child. S/he will choose their own church, if any, when they’re old enough. Until then we don’t want to choose for them.
Or we hear each other saying: I used to go to church a lot, but I commute, I work hard, and I just don’t want to be made to feel guilty about my lifestyle, so I don’t go so much any more.
Or we hear each other saying: I’m a good person, better than most, I go to church from time-to-time but I can’t take it too seriously. I just try to live by the golden rule, do onto others before they do onto you? No that’s not it, do onto others as you would have them do unto you.
Pluralism is the reigning philosophy in our day to day lives and the cost of pluralism is that we lose sight of what’s important. Because we live as if it is OK for anyone to believe anything we don’t know how to have integrity believing who we are.When we argue against pluralism we all too often come down on antiquarianism, or authoritarianism and do as Archie commanded Edith, we stifle ourselves.
The task in the exile, in a see of pluralism, was to carve out a way of being clear enough about what it means to be a person of faith, indeed of faith in Yahweh, or for us in God as revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ to stand serene in pluralistic ocean which surrounds us. The exilic community sought to do this by emphasizing religious worship, especially distinctive religious worship and stressing how God had helped the community in the past. The refrain that occurs throughout the Torah is “I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
If we as Episcopalians awash in a sea of pluralism are to stand as a people of faith, we have to be unafraid to claim for ourselves the faith that is ours and define ourselves by it. This will mean choices between the church and sports, extra-curricular activities, weekend trips, quiet Sunday morning with coffee and the newspaper. The people of Numbers said that they had made the choice and that God had constantly let them down. They were hungry for bread, meat and water. They wanted to go back to Egypt, but Moses leads them on. Faithless people lean on faithful Moses.
Now I could say that you have called into your midst Rich, who will be Moses to you and lead you to the promised land. Except that would be very disappointing because if Rich is Moses then none of you are going to make it to the promised land, you’ll just wander for a long time.
So Moses is perhaps not the model for a rector, and that should be a relief. Let us look elsewhere in Numbers for a model. Unfortunately Aaron and Miriam don’t work out well either. We only read of the 70 this one time, likewise of Eldad and Medad. We are better I think looking to Joshua and Caleb for a model.
It seems to me that a role for a rector in a pluralistic age is to be the one who proclaims to a people that the promised land lies before us and that we must have faith. It seems to me that a role for a rector in a pluralistic age is to be the one who brings back from that land some of the gifts of the land, to show that it is a blessed place flowing with mild and honey. It seems to me that a role for a rector in a pluralistic age is to speak the truth, even when it is painful.It seems to me that a role for a rector in a pluralistic age is to lead his people toward a dream. I don’t know what your dream is. But I do know that in the years ahead you will at times find God very fickle, and you will wish that God had given you Moses to stand in faith for you. But instead you have either Caleb or Joshua, who have some measure of Moses’ authority, but cannot speak to God face to face.
If Joshua then from time-to-time your rector will have to stand before you as Joshua did a Shechem and point to Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim and say to you choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household we will serve Yahweh.
You have called as rector someone who must stand with one foot in the present and another foot in the promise. He must always know that the promise is not yet and the present is not all that there is.
When you come to him and you say to him, Rich it is not fair I’m a good person and I have cancer, or my spouse has cancer or my child has cancer he must stand with you in the present and in the promise and show you that the present is not all that there is and that the promise is not yet.
When you come to him and you say to him, Rich it is not fair, I’m a good person and my spouse is divorcing me, or my children have rejected me, or I have been fired, or any other trouble he must stand with you in the present and in the promise and show you that the present is not all that there is and that the promise is not yet.
When you come to him and you say to him, Rich, life could not be better, I have all that I need, he must stand with you in the present and in the promise and show you that the promise is not yet and that the present is not all that there is.
When you come to him and say to him, Rich I have lost my faith and I cannot pray, he must stand with you in the present and in the promise and pray for you and with you and show you that the promise is not yet and that the present is not all that there is.
And when Rich comes to you and says to you, I am exhausted you must stand with him and say to him Rich, you are not Moses let us stand with you in the present and in the promise and show you that the present is not all that there is and that the promise is not yet.
And when Rich comes to you and says to you, I am exhilarated, you must stand with him and say to him Rich, you are not Moses. Let us stand with you in the present and in the promise and show you that the present is not all that there is and that the promise is not yet.
Ultimately the promise is gained only proleptically, that is we have in the present what is promised in the future. The promise is that even in a sea of pluralism there is identity for us, as there was for the exiles and as there was in the Exodus, if we can be people of faith. It will not be easy, it will not be clear, it will not be quick. Moses did not reach the promised land, but he saw it, the 70 elders did not reach the promised land, but they sought it. Their children reached the promise land because their parents kept the promise alive. Together you, your bishop and your community have the opportunity in the absence of stalwart Moses to be a fickle people with a fickle God, and journey to a promised land.
May God’s face shine upon us.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

God Believes in Love

I just finished reading God Believes in Love: Straight Talk on Gay Marriage, written by the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, ninth Bishop of New Hampshire and only recently retired.

I have met Bishop Robinson exactly twice and only in passing; he has no idea who I am. When I was a young curate in Connecticut I met him when he was still the Canon to the Ordinary in New Hampshire. That was probably 20 years ago. And then this past summer, I met him in line at Starbucks at General Convention. I wrote about that experience here.

What struck me about this book and those two (admittedly) brief encounters is how kind he is. He seems (in spite of death threats and hatred directed at him for almost a decade now for having the courage to be open about his sexuality and serve a Bishop in the Church he loves) to not harbor ill will toward those who still struggle with questions such as the one this book addresses: gay marriage. Amazing!

He begins by telling a bit of his story and his two marriages: his first marriage to a woman named "Boo" Martin and his second marriage to Mark Andrew, his partner for 25 years before they could legally marry in New Hampshire. He thanks both of them in the opening chapter of the book before going on to address in a conversational style some of the questions he has been asked, including: "Why Gay Marriage Now?" and "Doesn't the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?" and "Don't Children Need a Mother and a Father?"

This book will not change the minds of any "hardliners" who are convinced that homosexuality is a sin. And for those for whom this is "no big deal" there is nothing terribly new here. The chapter on the Bible is essentially a distillation of what serious Biblical scholarship has said about the "seven texts" that supposedly deal with this topic that are found in both testaments. This is not in any way to dismiss this chapter or any of the book; the fact is that many faithful people really do believe, based on what they have heard from some preachers, that the Bible is clearly against homosexuality and therefore, presumably gay marriage. In fact the kind of clear writing here needs to be stated again and again to counter that false sense of what the Scriptures do and do not say.

The best audience for this book are open-minded people who are still struggling with the idea of gay marriage; people who do have gay and lesbian friends and want to be supportive but who may genuinely feel like the world is changing rapidly, and maybe even too rapidly. And who are not sure that religion ought to be delving into all of this. I believe that such persons would find this book helpful.

I personally needed no convincing. The book was given to me as a gift and I read it gladly. The Church has been talking about these things for decades now and I think it is time for us to fully embrace the ministries of all the baptized, as I have previously stated in this blog. I am proud to be part of a denomination that has approved a rite for same-sex blessings and to have voted for that rite this summer at General Convention. In reading this book, I found myself simply saying "amen" a lot as I read each chapter.

There were two vignettes that I am left with after reading this book. One is the brief history about the gay rights movement. Bishop Robinson suggests that it was the AIDs crisis that precipitated people "coming out" to their families. Prior to that, people could legitimately say "I don't know any gay people." Bishop Robinson was born in the south in 1947 when, as he puts it, "homosexuality was hardly ever referred to in polite conversation, and when it was, it was always in a whisper." (page 19) People could go the movies to see Rock Hudson or James Dean and never dream that they were gay. I have heard this same kind of comment again and again from church people who might ask, quite sincerely: "what will happen if we start ordaining gay and lesbian clergy? I often have known, for a fact, that they had been served by (closeted) gay priests whom they adored, but without a clue about their private lives. 

Bishop Robinson notes that there is almost no one left in America who can legitimately claim now that they do not know a gay or lesbian person: a co-worker or a child or grandchild or neighbor. The issue is not that there are more gay and lesbian people, but that these persons are now able to be more open about who they are. Clearly this is what the conversations in the Church have been about over the past few decades.

A related point, for me, is the compelling story Bishop Robinson tells about a speech he made at Colby College in Maine. In his speech he admits to having made an overly glib and frivolous comment: "I don't know how any of you straight white guys get it!" One of those straight white males came up to him after the speech to tell him he had an answer to the question: "we listen to you....and then we believe you." (page 45)

This, too, it seems to me is something my denomination has been working at. Rather than talking about people as if they are not in the room, we are learning (with God's help and with the courageous witness of people like Gene Robinson) to listen to the lived experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. People are being empowered to tell their own stories, in their own words, and many of us believe them.

This, for me, is the real value of not only this book but of the ministry of Gene Robinson to all the Church. My prayer is that he and Mark Andrew may enjoy the next chapter of "retirement"- and that the rest of us might honor his ministry by learning how better to listen and believe the experience of our LGBT neighbors and friends.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just One New Year's Resolution

I came across this today, posted on The Episcopal Cafe website: words that come from J. Neville Ward's "Enquiring Within," a book I have not read, from an author I know almost nothing about. But I do know the author Ward quotes - Jean Pierrede Caussade. With the encouragement of my spiritual director (who is a huge fan) I read The Sacrament of the Present Moment several years ago. He certainly has no monopoly on the concept, which also goes to the heart of Twelve-Step Programs (one day at a time!) but he expresses it quite well.

I am not a big resolution-maker, but here is one I'd like to make in 2013, and with God's help keep: to live more fully each present moment. As Jesus put it, to 'consider the lilies of the field...'

Happy New Year!
Jesus was a practical, one item at a time man, with no admiration at all for minds that rush ahead... In the huge pile of stuff that is recommended to Christians for spiritual reading I have not found anyone who so clearly and practically interpreted this part of his teaching as J. P. de Caussade in his thoughts on the sacrament of the present moment.
It is part of that idea that if the present is not exactly wonderful for you, then it's worth finding out why, finding out whether or not there is a problem at this moment, and, if there is one, doing now whatever can be done about it now. If there isn't any problem just now, then there's nothing to stop us looking around to see if there isn't on the contrary something to be enjoyed, and simply enjoying it...
Whatever is present is in front of me now; it is also impermanently there; being momentary, it is fading, and it must pass away sooner or later...
If the desired situation is with me now, it is, even so, time-driven. To live intelligently means to be ready, even if it is mostly at some great depth of being, for it to go.
If it is not with me yet, let that be so too. I must let it not be yet. It's possible to use up all your days seeing happiness mistily in the future, unaware that you are always sure to see some blemish on what is present because your faith is that somewhere else is nearer the centre of joy. In time I shall be a happier person...
God is the universally present one. It's a belief that is at the centre of many religions. The present moment is always his presence. His presence is always the present moment. The present moment invariably consists principally in something to be done or something to be put up with or something to be enjoyed. Attending wholeheartedly to whichever of these it the case is what is meant by responding to God and doing his will....
 [from J. Neville Ward, Enquiring Within, Epworth Press, London, 1988, p. 38f]