Worship without but within words…

Posted at The Postmodern Mystic — 29 December 2015

earth beautiful

From some years ago…

Sleeping… waken… open eyes… beautiful… lights dancing, but small lights. Seemingly in random motion, yet not… as I rest, relax, cease striving, I see pattern, beauty, praise. This is life itself… rather, Life Himself. Truth, beauty, goodness, love, peace, joy, music, praise, thanks… worship. Somehow, I have wakened inside worship.  How amazing.

“Lord?” I whisper, reverently, sacredly… awed.

And there is caress, a tender hug and enfolding… no words… direct impression of idea… He unspeaks… “Hush… be… I AM… you… be.” Can’t really translate the impression into words. That is as close as I can come. I was simply to exist in Him, and hush. So I did.

And then… I was inside of Someone with no boundaries or limits. Strange, to be inside One Who has no “outside”. But then He spoke, He uttered, and I flowed with that tide, that current from within Him to “other”, to “beyond” Him… He had spoken The Word.

And now, with infinite others, I was inside that Other… Holy Other… spoken forth from the First, from the Prime Mover… still dancing lights, all the same, identical pattern, Life Himself. Truth, beauty, goodness, love, peace, joy, music, praise, thanks… worship. No different, yet different, for now all this worship and praise had an Object, a Focus, the Other, the Prime Mover.

And This One, This Holy One, spoken forth from the Object of His Love, now spoke forth His Own First Word… it was, “Father”, as He wholly and entirely adored the Prime Mover. And again there was movement, the lights, we, flowed from Him, outwards, back to the Father. Amazing.

And then, between them, forevermore, remained that “word” that “bridge” the relationship between Them. And it grew, expanded, encompassing all and everything, in its own light, as This Too became Alive and Whole in and of Himself… the Relationship Between Them, as the Prime Mover spoke again… the word “Son.”

There was nothing to say, nothing to do, nothing to think, but to flow with this Life, this Love, these Words… There was no awareness of anything beyond the moment… the “I”… the “Now”… the “Here”… and Here, was, distinctly, worship.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh, sweet irony. I do not wish to speak. I am yet There… and when I “hush”, when I now “relax” and allow Him to draw me into Him with “no distance”, “no apartness”, then my mind stops thinking, there is no more I/Thou, and I am there! Such… no, no words. The sweetness, the joy and light of that, is so immediate, so poignant, that it pierces the heart and soul. Seems strange to say… joy so great it is nearly painful in its intensity. A moment more… then work… then obedience…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There are some who pray, who have discovered God in Silence. I never understood before. Trappists, Carthusians… My Jesuit father frequently said, if God did not command his obedience and service as a Jesuit, or if the Order ever chose to release him (as he had a request before them to do for years)… he sought to join a Carthusian monastery he knew. I asked why, and he said, “They are forever silent. They live ever in His immediate presence, and hear only Him. God grants me that only when I contemplate… but then commands me to teach. So I obey. But someday, if He grants my wish and reward, I shall be a Carthusian.”

I did not understand. I do now.

The Music! The Harmonies of the Silence! Would that I never again spoke or uttered a sound. The irony. It seems I very much am “my father’s child”. Now, that finally I desire no speech… now I am properly prepared to craft words. Now, it is time… to teach. Though all I would seek is solitude and silence.

Church is where the mangoes come…

Mango Osteen Asit ftgI remember the mangoes. Mangoes by the bag, by the box, by the sack… small, medium, large containers… some cherries, some tomatoes… but mostly mangoes.

I was the “new kid on the block”, just in my first weeks serving on my first church staff as “Outreach Minister” (now usually called “Community Ministries Director”).  Day by day as winter gave way to spring, produce made its way onto the church secretary’s desk, and thence betimes to the pastor’s desk.

Late-ish one afternoon, he called me into his office saying, “I have a job for you, if you can handle it reverently. You now work among homeless and you know a number of poor families and workers.

“These,” as he indicated some mangoes and avocados, with other produce on his desk, “these need to be given to people and families in need. They cannot just be given to friends, or eaten on your own, or allowed to spoil and go to waste. Do you know people who need these?”

I assured him I did, but he could see the confused look on my face. I mean… what’s up with these fruits and vegetables? Why were they here? Why was he so concerned about them?

He smiled as he realized my confusion, and had me pick up some of the containers to tote to the car as he explained.

“These, Little Monk, are ‘first fruits’. People in this community often select the very finest of the first of their crops and produce, and bring them here as a gift… as an offering to God. Some of these families themselves have little money, grow their own food, and give their fruit as gifts. But every year they bring the Best of their First here, just to honor God. I treat these very carefully. These… are His… not ours. And every year I make sure none goes to waste, but they are given away to those who can use them.

“This year, because of what you do, I think you can do that better than I. And some we will set aside for our Sunday Schools to give to neighbors and friends with needs. These are precious and special because of the gift they are, and the gifting hearts that gave them. Treat them accordingly, all right?”

I readily agreed, and took time and care to distribute everything among people who were delighted at the boon to their larders. It was a simple task I’ve always enjoyed, but seldom gotten to repeat. “First Fruits” is not a common custom, though I’ve often thought of this when I’ve handled other “gifts that honor God” in the years since.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have no idea why, earlier this evening, this remembrance came to me so very strongly. But it came with a realization that here was a wondrous part of what it is, was, can be… to take part in “Church”.

When we ask, “What is Church?” I know that a part of that is this kind of sharing. Bringing the best of our first to the altar, as a grateful gift to honor God, for sharing with those in need.