The “C” word

“Well,” said the sister, “we don’t really want to use the ‘c’ word (crisis) for the weeds, but we’re close!”  So this weekend, all hands in dirt.  No booth at the Farmer’s market.  No regular Sunday mass – we’re celebrating a “making-brunch-and-Eucharist-event” instead.  Its all weeds all the time.

The chickens have a portal from their yard into Sweet William’s Field.  As you pull up the weeds, the hens surround you, feathers iridescent green in the sun.  They love petting and make good companions in the garden, scratching the dirt for grubs and worms.  You compete for worms, wanting the worms to stay working  in the soil.  But you can almost see a laser beam between the golden orb of a chicken’s eye and the camoflagued annelid.chickenEyeCrop  

Weeds or no weeds I still have the website deadline on Monday.  Some people use the site for Bible study and get anxious if the meditations don’t appear as their meeting time approaches.  Monday, being the monastic Sabbath (each sister on her own, no schedule of offices or prepared meals or work times) I have a long period of uninterrupted time to finish off the site, the newsletter, and the blog.

Because the site provides a self guided retreat every week based on the lectionary, and because it’s only to help enter the coming Sunday’s texts in personal devotion, (not for scholarly interpretation or sermon preparation -although some preachers have written in gratitude! thank you, guys!) I never know what’s going to emerge.

This week “take up your cross” highlighted itself and within that, the idea of the devotional symbol of the cross emerged.  Another “C” word.  Besides chicken.   So I found more than enough quotes about devotion to the cross. (see www.edgeofenclosure.org ).   And I thought I’d write about the devotional cross I’m wearing.

In December I will observe my silver anniversary as a priest.  At my ordination I was given a beautiful Jerusalem cross a friend bought for me in Israel.  I loved it because it looked as much like a medalian as a cross and I felt free to wear it every day without attracting attention to the complications of my often shaky faith or offending people for whom the cross creates anxiety.

One day this past winter somewhere between segments of a series of errands, the cross finally wore out and shattered, the top piece disappearing – somewhere in the road, parking lot, the nursing home, or the hardware store.

Not long after this I received an unexpected package from France with a note.  “Is this the cross you were looking for?”  I unwrapped it and held in my hand my old confirmation cross, the celtic cross given to confirmands by our parish church in St. James, NY.

I’d cherished this cross for years, all through junior high and high school.  I loved the weight, the feel, the sense of sanctity, the memory of the sacrament I’d so desired and petitioned for earlier than was normally allowed.  I’d loved the consecration it represented.

But while my growing and thinking and exploring took me away from the church with sadness and regret during college years, my friend Elizabeth “found Christ.” I’d lost faith and she’d found it.  So I gave her my beloved cross.

Almost forty years later during a visit with one another I remembered the cross and asked if she still had it.  Elizabeth has five children and lived her married life in Colombia, Holland, Hong Kong, Japan, and various places in France.  She didn’t remember it, or so I thought until a few years later when that little packet arrived from France. 

Now I’m wearing the cross I wore when I was twelve years old when I began this journey of dedication and its mix of emotions: sadness, joy, disappointment, grief, humiliation, ecstacy, surprise, passion, and mostly just difficult plodding along, kind of like weeding.

Here’s a last word from Dag Hammerskjold’s Markings

Thou who has created us free, Who seest all that
     happens – yet art confident of victory,
Thou who at this time art the one among us
     who suffereth the uttermost loneliness,
Thou – who art also in me,
May I bear Thy burden, when my hour comes,
May I –

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2 Responses to “The “C” word”

  1. Blithe Spirit Says:

    Fifteen years ago I inheirited my childhood home; a small house by the sea full of memories and of many wonderful treasures which I had thought lost for ever. One of those treasures, a bundle of letters, which I did not open until last year, led me to search for a way back to the God I had long abandoned. Finding lost things is always wonderful.

  2. Jean Rettus Says:

    I love your blogs. I read from “Markings” often. You give me so much spiritually; imagine how many others you touch. Grave responsibility which you take on beautifully. Thank you.

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