My apologies, blog readers, for the rather spotty updates here. At this time last week, I was with my mother, the Anonymous Peggins, and other members of my family in New Hampshire. Some of that time was spent in quiet contemplation (something I hope to write about soon). But much of that time, I would characterize as having been spent in ministry to my mom and my brothers. And I do mean, "ministry." Some tough conversations, marked with tears. I even anointed my mom with massage oil when a Roman Catholic priest or lay visitor refused to give her a blessing of healing oil because she was an Episcopalian.
I have spent most of this past week in what seems like a combination of prayer and perpetual wrestling match with myself. I am facing a number of questions about the direction in which my life is moving. And this week's Gospel lesson from Luke seems to be pushing me more with it's sending people out in pairs like sheep among wolves to bring God's peace into other places. I once had a dream in which I was standing at the altar of a church, facing out to the congregation. The folks in the pews were all people with tattoos, multiple piercings, and a few colorful mohawks. And I thought, "Really? Is this what I'm supposed to do?"
See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."--Luke 10:19-20
This last line of today's Gospel probably offers the most hope to me. It is the reminder that whatever I do to bring Love to places where there is fear, or hope to those who are in despair, it isn't just me doing it. I have had this discussion with my mentor as well as my spiritual director, neither of whom ever take personal credit for anything they have said or done to help me. Because, they are correct: it isn't just them, but it is the power of the Spirit at work through them. Just as Jesus is saying to his disciples who are ecstatic that they were successful in driving the demons out of people (which I don't take as a Linda Blair-like exorcism, but rather removing the impediments to feeling Loved), he reminds them not to get puffed up about that. The fact that they brought people to Love wasn't because they were so wonderful; it's that they were wonderful enough to submit to the Spirit, so that the Spirit had the power to show through them and work through them to touch another.
I have had more and more experiences like that in recent months. After a particularly difficult and heartwrenching conversation with one of my brothers last week, a day in which I definitely felt that my job was to minister to him, I found myself breaking into song as I walked away to get in my car. And the tune was one very familiar to us of Anglican land: Praise God from whom all blessings flow/Praise God all creatures here below/Praise God above ye heavenly hosts/ Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Even though it was me who had sat with him, talked with him, hugged him, it wasn't me only: it was the Spirit of Love who basically became something of a body snatcher to do the work of Love through me. I knew that.
If my name is being written in heavenly ink, why do I balk at taking further steps to follow?