Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaping into the Dark II: Bethel

Well, here I am in an ecclesiastical limbo. There are two things that are very important for me.

First, I must not emulate Lot's wife. I do not regret my decision to resign my licence, indeed perhaps this is something I should have done ages ago. I must not look back, either in regret or bitterness. There is much I could be bitter about, but it does me no good to ruminate over things that are now dead and gone, nor to demonise the agents of my departure, nor to allow these thoughts to ruin what for me is an opportunity to start afresh.

Second, I have to keep up my discipline, and not let things go. I may not have a licence anymore but I still have the training of a Reader which I've been exercising. I also have the Rule of my oblation which does give me some structure. The temptation is that, while I am not an obvious part of any worshipping community, that I am no longer bound by commitments to prayer and working the Will of God. So it is important that, while I'm on my own I should keep up the activities that I established while I was licenced and apply them in suitable situations - such as blogging. It makes sense then to keep this little blogling going while I can.

I alluded last time to the word theos having the underlying notion of "to leap" and was called up on it by a couple of friends. The information I found was from Olivier Clement's book The Roots of Christian Mysticism in which he mentions that theos comes from theirai meaning "to found" and theein "to leap" and he quotes this in context of St Theophilus of Antioch. Whether or not it is true that the word theos has this derivation, I feel certain that the idea of God the founder and foundation of the universe leaping beyond every bound, gives us a certain colour to what little we truly understand of Him. It is true that God does leap between Heaven and Earth and this immediately makes me think of the passage about Jacob's ladder:

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set ; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest , and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel...

Genesis xxviii.10-19(first part)
Whine night falls upon a child of God and he can see no further forward into his journey, the it seems he must be still and rest so that he might know God better. He must set his head to rest upon the Rock of his Faith and surrender his body to the darkness, trusting in his Heavenly Father to deliver him through all perils and dangers of the night.

It is in the night-time that he will learn of his proximity to Heaven, for the ladder which bridges Heaven and Earth, upon which the Angels climb to perform their ministrations, is nothing less than the Cross of Christ. God stands with us, through his Eternal presence, through the person of His Son Who walked with us, and still walks with us now, and through the Holy Paraclete who allows us to perceive Heavenly realities. The Father's presence with us has the intimacy and interior nature of a dream, but a dream that points to hidden reality and uncovers obvious truth. If the sun sets upon our journey, we should not fear because God is in this place - the darkness and the light to Him are both alike.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Leaping into the dark.

It's interesting that the Greek word theos has roots in the idea of leaping between positions. God is One Who leaps into being (somehow), leaps into our lives and, if we let Him, into our hearts. There are some beautiful ikons of the Theotokos in which the infant God is caught in the act of leaping into his mother's face, pressing his tiny cheek into hers seeking to know her fully. She of course lets Him, and that is what singles Our Lady out from us, not that we aren't loved fully by God.

This sort of brings me to my point. I have, perhaps for the first time in my life, made a decision. I have finally left my Parish. Having tried for so long to accommodate two rapidly diverging integrities, I have just resigned my license as Reader and will be looking for a new spiritual home. I still want to retain my membership of FiF and the Benedictines, so the withdrawal from the CofE is not fully complete, but I cannot honestly see me receiving the Sacrament in the CofE for some time.

Interestingly, the straw that broke the Camel's back was my celebration of the Angelus in which I tried to call my Parish to mind of the mystery of the Incarnation. It is not in the BCP so I was told I should either drop it or go. I chose the latter after wrestling with my conscience and all kinds of tortuous roots to try and include some devotion to Our Lady in a parish which has exterminated it, as well as any Catholicism.

So I have decided to leap into the dark and pray that I am caught in the loving arms of my Creator. I seek to trust Him fully and in the light of that trust, I shall not be disappointed. I have already made my promise of Oblation: Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam; et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.

As one door closes...