“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” --Isaiah 55: 6-9
When I was in prep school in Massachusetts, I came to the attention of the school’s theater director when he saw me perform a soliloquy from George Bernard Shaw’s “St. Joan”. The speech was a dramatization of Joan of Arc telling her English accusers that she would not give up her fight for her homeland because God had commanded her to defend France. Unlike many of my classmates, I had no problem tapping into anger and righteous rage as an actress. Often times, I felt that anyway, so acting it was pretty easy. The theater director was so impressed with this “unknown” Freshman, and begged me to do the school plays instead of defending the school’s honor on the sports fields. I finally did act in a play…as a Senior. And, as much as I had been told that I was fantastic as a Freshman in that role, I later learned from this same man that, if he were to ever do “St. Joan” at the school, I wouldn’t get to play the lead. I was too tall and my athletic build made me look too strong. Apparently, only dainty little girls could play the role of a saint.
Why I was thinking about this story goes back to the passage from Isaiah. A line toward the end of my monologue was “His ways are not your ways”. That, and “For your thoughts are not my thoughts” are two phrases that have been on my mind the past 24 hours. When I checked the footnote on this particular verse, it said, “God’s ways and thoughts, the divine plan to redeem Israel, are beyond Israel’s comprehension”. And I say, “Yeah, no kidding!”
As I’ve been following things happening in England through blogs and listserves, I have been struck by how God appears to be at work. I was pleased to read that a “Fringe Event” involving that “scary gay man” resulted in an evening where some healing and reconciliation started to take place. Bishops, particularly from outside the USA who took a chance and attended, came to see that their fears were baseless, and—shock—maybe they had been wrong to listen to the voices of the strangers who try to cheat their way past the gatekeeper. Then there was the march for support of the Millenium Development Goals…a U-N initiative embraced by the Anglican Communion. There they were…600-something purple-shirted protestors…marching through the streets of London demanding action on global poverty (which is the first of the goals). I’m used to seeing and participating in protest marches involving young people, bathed in Patchouli, and beating drums. Or beautiful, strong men and women with rainbow flags demanding equal rights. But middle-aged multicultural bishops? That was new! And they employed a tactic the oppressed have often had to use to make their case to the majority that action is necessary to rectify a wrong. I’ve been pleased to read in some of the blogs that more than a few bishops from our own country, when faced with meeting someone from a developing nation, are knocked off their comfy perches of privilege when they realize, “Oh, you mean not everyone has a (fill-in-consumer-item-du-jour).”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts”. On the more personal scale, this message is coming to me as yet another reminder that I need to trust that God’s plan will become clearer in due time. Not just for the Anglican Communion, but for me as well. Patience is not only requested, but required.
I’ll remain patient…with God’s help.