Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Slush Wednesday

Just back from my fourth walk of the day with Rusty. Earlier walks were quite wet and slushy; on this one, the slush was beginning to freeze but not, as yet, becoming too slippery. Anyway I have my Great Big Waterproof Boots to wear. They seem to weigh about 12 pounds apiece but that's probably not true.

No church for me today, I didn't want to walk all the way to Big Taupe Church, and I didn't want to trudge into the Episcopal Church in my clodhoppers. The only service at my church was at noontime, which suggests to me that the old New England Congregationalists here are not quite comfy with Ash Wednesday yet or at least don't think it's important for young families and children to participate.

I did read the readings for today from Bread and Wine, the book the RevGalBlogPals are reading for Lent. The general introduction talked about Lent as a time of joy, not the way many people think of it. The introduction for the first section was part of Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol, where Wilde compares the heart broken by the consciousness of sin to the box of ointment that the woman in the Gospel uses to anoint Jesus. The reading for today was titled "Repentance" by Kathleen Norris, from her book Amazing Grace. She talks about reading the Psalms to parochial school students when she's being a poet-in-residence, and having them write their own psalms as not only an exercise in poetry, but a way to deal with their justifiable anger (for example, toward a sibling who mistreats them). Once they've got the anger out, they can begin the process of repentance. (And reconciliation?) If we think of the Psalms this way, it becomes a bit easier to take the parts where the Psalmist begs God to smite his enemies. I don't feel that we use the Psalms enough in church, and one of the reasons is probably a squeamishness about all that smiting! (Also there is almost an obsession in the mainline church with keeping the service to one hour in length. When this is used as a reason to truncate endless repetitious announcements, well and good; but I wouldn't mind staying a bit longer if we said or sang a Psalm every week, and maybe an extra hymn as well.)

Some years ago a friend told me this anecdote: An elderly man is asked whether he believes in infant baptism. His response: "Believe in it, hell! I've SEEN it!" I know people who say they don't believe in sin. And my response is, "Believe in it, hell! I've DONE it!" And it leads to a broken heart, or as the child in Kathleen Norris's piece puts it, a "messy house," but then it can also lead to the joy of repentance.


Songbird said...

I'm really sad that we canceled our service, but earlier in the day it seemed wise. Who knew the snow would take so long to arrive?

Rachel at Swandive said...

Thanks for stopping over for the hug, and I am so delighted to meet you. Wonderful slush wednesday observances. Thank you.

Crimson Rambler said...

so much in this post that I'd love to talk over with you, preferably with some nice fresh coffee at hand. Have you seen the Robert Alter translation of the Psalms? (I haven't, but am told it's good)
BTW we run 90 minutes, and to heck with the complainers.

Cathy said...

I really loved your reflections on the readings so far. I hope you will share more. I almost felt you were sitting across a table talking with me.