Sunday, December 09, 2007

Living in an autumnal time

Flight cancellations, weather delays, and mysterious alarm lights in airplane cockpits meant it took us two whole days to get home from Barcelona, days spent seeing much more of airports than we needed.

We finally arrived in Fort Worth on my birthday, Dec. 4, to find that Autumn also had arrived.

We have glorious red Japanese maples in one corner of the garden with others glowing gold in another corner. There is tree in the front yard that is a beautiful copper color and one that is bright yellow. It is perfectly lovely.

Yes, I know we're nearly to the Winter Solstice, but this is Texas, where there may or may not be a Fall. This year, it's been so warm so long that I have iris blooming in the Chapel Garden. While we were away there was a cold snap that included some snow flurries [when I was child, I thought snow flurries were little white birds]. In the five days we've been home, the temperatures have soared into the 80s and dropped down into the high 30s.

Ah, yes, Texas, where the weather is never boring and where one never ever puts away one's summer wardrobe because one might need it in January.

Church is never boring here either, especially these days, as we all await the response to the actions of the convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin's vote to "leave" The Episcopal Church. We here in Fort Worth are watching with extreme interest, for obvious reasons. Bishop Katharine's statement that "The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership," provided much reassurance to loyal Episcopalians.

We are living in an autumnal time. We long ago left behind any summer of hope that reconciliation could happen here. Our leadership long ago made it clear that they sought capitulation, not reconciliation.

So now we are walking through rustling leaves of dead hopes. The dust from the desiccation fills the air, making our eyes tear.

Grief, dread, and anxiety swirl around with every gust of oratory. For sure, we all place our hope in Christ, but right now, reassurance from more earthly authorities is greatly needed and appreciated.

We are in an ugly in-between place, where our bishop says he's still in The Episcopal Church so no charges can be brought against him while at the same time he's exerting huge pressure on clergy to commit to going to the Southern Cone with him after next year's vote. Those who have made it clear that they want to remain in TEC are under even more pressure to acknowledge the legitimacy of diocesan convention's actions by playing along with the Alice-in-Wonderland Canon 32 in which they have to petition the diocese to let them "leave" the diocese to "return" to TEC.

One priest described the process as being forced to board a ship and sailing off to sea, then having to petition the captain for permission to return to shore.

"I don't want to leave in the first place,' one priest said.

Those clergy committed to Bp. Iker's plans are putting huge pressures on lay people to toe the line. Lay people who want to remain in TEC but who are in parishes whose clergy are committed to going with the bishop are feeling terribly isolated and abandoned. Their clergy essentially tell them to "shut up," that they will not be allowed to defend TEC because it's defending heresy.

Fort Worth Via Media is working overtime, trying to reach out to such folk and provide them with a community in which hope can grow.

For the past two nights, I've had the same dream: I'm in a big cold place that echoes with emptiness. I am overwhelmed with grief, lying curled up on the floor, sobbing. Then I feel two warm arms enfold me, and hold me close, and a voice murmuring, "It's all right. All will be well."

I look up and see that Gene Robinson is holding me. He smiles and says, "Look who else is here."

It's Katharine, along with some other bishops of the church.

And a feeling of hope pervades the empty space.


Barbi Click said...

I am so glad that you are home, Katie. :-)

Caminante said...

Katie, that is one powerful dream... and it brings tears to my eyes because I can imagine Gene doing that. I have no way of knowing what things are like for you but you all are in my prayers during this liminal time.

Welcome back home -- sorry the two-day delay didn't mean getting to hang out in fun places longer. Airports are not. Lee

Kirstin said...

I'm in DioCal; I have friends among the "remnant" in San Joaquin.

You will not be forgotten. Our prayers and our love are with you.

Anonymous said...

I am speaking from a church "remnant" in the diocese of San Joaquin. The "majority" of our parish has chosen to follow the bishop, and loyal Episcopalians who have served in our church for decades have no church home. We have dispersed to other churches, some to a parish 45to 50 miles away. But Christmas Eve is coming and we felt a need for a local Christmas Eve service. The priest of the parish, 50 miles away, has agreed to be with us if we can meet at 5 PM. (We know this must be a sacrifice with his busy Christmas schedule.) A woman priest from outside the diocese also agreed to come and help with the services. (Her bishop in the Diocese of California agreed to allow her to come.) Both of them have taken these steps not knowing how many we will be able to gather. It is hard not to be angry, finding ourselves in this position after all our years in the church. However, we feel so blessed by those who want to work with this faithful remnant, whatever its size. Currently we are looking for a "place," for our services, which may be in a home, a recreation room in a senior citizen center, or a side room in another local church. We plan to continue as faithful members of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin. When two or three are gathered together....

Pray for the Epsicopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Katie Sherrod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie Sherrod said...

Dear Beryl,
All of you in San Joaquin are in our prayers. Our hearts break for you, but I also am filled with hope, for I know you are moving toward something new and healthy in your diocese. In spite of it alll, I hope you have a blessed Advent and Merry Christmas. May the new year be filled with all good things for you and the diocese.