REV. GAIL LINDSAY MARRINER
UU Santa Fe Minister
We travelled over the kids’ spring break this year. We visited Boston and DC, the first to visit with grandparents and the second just to see the sights. It was good to see Nathaniel’s parents again – his Dad can’t travel and it had been over a year. DC was intense. We stayed a few blocks off the Mall and spent hours visiting museums and monuments– the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, the African American Museum and the national Museum of the American Indian, the Folger Shakespeare Library. We tried to take it slow – to give everything the time it deserved, but there was just so much to see. Even at two locations per day we were overwhelmed. Why is it that when we travel we try to see it all in several large gulps and when we live somewhere and could explore at our leisure we only ever go see any of it when we have out of town guests? What does it say about how we live that we travel to faraway places to binge on brief intense experiences and then cruise on autopilot at home?
What would it be like, I wonder, to visit DC and spend several hours a day for several days at just one museum? For that matter, what would it be like to spend several hours a week or a month at just one museum or park or monument here at home? Which places would reward that level of attention? How would it change our experience of our place, of our lives? The Upstart Readers (parents and adult friends of the Upstart Crows) do a “close read” of whichever Shakespeare play the kids are performing next. We read the play very slowly over several months stopping to ask questions and discuss every few lines. It’s fun and it makes watching the performances far more rewarding. What if we engaged some of the familiar places on our life journeys the same way – slowing down, stopping every few steps to notice and explore, visiting the same places over and over again? Our ordinary day to day lives happen in an extraordinary place, what if we chose to experience our ordinary lives in this extraordinary place with the same intention (and much greater leisure) as we would grant to some destination far away? How would it change our journey?
Steven serves UU Santa Fe as Consulting Lifespan Learning Director
“You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves. / Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. / Meanwhile the world goes on. / Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain / are moving across the landscapes, / over the prairies and the deep trees, / the mountains and the rivers. / Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, / are heading home again. / Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination, / calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— / over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.”—Mary Oliver
There are times in our lives when we need to be on our knees—when seeking forgiveness or in supplication, or atonement. The trick is knowing when to get on our knees, and just as, and maybe more importantly when to get up. One thing about walking on our knees is that it’s usually caused by something in our past, in our looking behind us or over our shoulder. Another thing about walking on our knees is you can’t move forward very well and certainly not very fast. People walk on their knees; so do families, congregational communities, even our denomination.
I would be one of the first to tell you we need to be a peace with our past. Often with our mistakes, especially the ones we didn’t learn from so well. They have a way of coming back, those—reminding us that we are often weak and consistently imperfect. But I think it’s not so important that we are imperfect, that we unravel, act out, or fail to put our best selves forward—what’s important is what we do about it now.
My point is this, walk on your knees when you need to but then get up and move on, not in spite of, but because of those imperfections. I don’t know when the right time to “get up” is for you but I’m betting that you do. Trust yourself with this Holy Thing and “announce your place in the family of things.” We’ll welcome you home.
So, get up. Patch your jeans. And remember we live in a world where the “Gods laugh loudest when we mortals seek perfection.” See you on Sunday.