Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Warm Coming We Had of It

Icon of Jon Daniels
Very proud of our bishops

With my boss, the Rt. Rev. Doug Fisher

In T. S. Eliot's poem, "Journey of the Magi" an aging Wiseman reflects on a pilgrimage taken many years before and then asks that great question: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? Those who have been following my blog this past week know that I have come with some old friends and some new ones to Hayneville, Alabama to remember the death of Jonathan Daniels. We have come on a journey not to Palestine in the deep midwinter, but to Alabama in the heat of summer. We have come to remember and to pray. As we prepare to leave for home tomorrow morning, I find myself asking the same question: were we led all this way for Birth or Death?

And I wonder if the answer here isn't the same one implied in Eliot's poem: Yes. Because to God's faithful people, we trust that in death, life is changed, not ended.

I was honored today to carry in an image of James Reeb, another "outside agitator" who gave his life for others - a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston who was beaten to death on March 11, 1965. He was 38 years old.  We carried these "icons" with us on the march and I felt a profound connection to this man as I walked along the way, as well as for the man we had come to honor. And for the living classmates from the Virginia Military Institute, and the Episcopal Divinity School. In the midst of the liturgy these names were called and each of the fourteen of us carrying these "icons" would respond, "PRESENT" as their bios were read and a candle was lit for each one. Very powerful. The living and the dead - one great fellowship divine.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop -elect
Were we led all this way for birth or death? I was reminded of that very powerful scene in Places of the Heart with Sally Field, at the end of the film when they are celebrating Holy Communion and all the saints - black and white, the living and the dead, are present. One fellowship divine. One mystic, sweet communion.

Were we led all this way for birth or death? Indeed. As the preacher said today, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Now it is our time to run the race with endurance, and to keep on going, and going, and going.

At the Southern Poverty Law Center - a reminder that the work continues

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