Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Memorable Trip

Ellie and I have one grandson, Ryan Alex Clayton, born in D.C. about 5 months ago. Last week we went up there for the child's baptism-- in a large interracial Catholic Church a few blocks from their home.

30 years ago I would have felt terrible about such a thing (not the interrancial, but the Catholic) happening to a descendant of mine, but in the interim I've given up many of my prejudices in that direction.

The service (mass!) was most impressive, especially the fervor shown by the congregation. I preached in black churches, and felt happy and encouraged with the verbal support they give, but that was many years ago.

The best part of the activity to me was worshpping with Margie and her husband.
I met Margie on the web, and we have enjoyed an extensive correspondence, but flesh and blood is something else again. It was wonderful meeting with them and getting to know them in connection with the mass and the reception.

I still disapprove of the Catholic Church, although now no more than the Protestant Churches I've known. But the positive vibes from that mass have led me to move beyond my theological disapproval and recognize the real values this church is bringing to its members.

[If you've missed my regular posts here, I was away from my computer for 12 days and unable to get to my blog for editing. Obviously I'm back now.]


Marjorie said...

Thanks, Larry, it was very special for me, too!

I've never been a big fan of Catholicism mainly because I've always felt alienated from it, probably due to the fact that they often expressly disinvite non-Catholics from receiving the sacrament. It feels so clear to me that I'm an outsider. But I'm finally moving past that. I think its important to be raised in a faith community and have parents who have a spirituality and teach their children about it (I'm strongly theistic, so I'd stress God, but even without God, I think its important to have a strong spiritual grounding). Ultimately, as the child becomes an adult, the child will choose.

Blessings to you and your family. And since you didn't mention it, Ryan is such a sweet, happy child, your son and daughter-in-law were lucky to get him back after I got to hold him!

david said...

Welcome back!

I have always felt a soft space for the Catholics. But that is because my association has mostly been through reading. I may not like the structures the hierarchies the patriarchies -- but those structures make possible some very deep spiritual writings. A richness missing in most Protestant based writings I have managed to encounter.

Catholics also allow a range of spiritual expressions. In Protestantism if you are a contemplative you have to hunt down a church that supports that spirituality. If you are Evangelical you go someplace else. With the Catholics the contemplative and the Evangelical sit side by side in the same pew.

Sound like the church you attended demonstrated that rather vividly. Sounds like an amazing church.

Meredith said...

When we worship with others with different traditions from our own, we noticed differences, and this is sometimes met with discomfort. Reflections come up highlighting our own practice and tradition viewed in contrast with a different tradition.

Sitting with this, something greater than either tradition arises. About a similar experience, a friend, Chodpa, wrote: “Underneath, inbetween, and all around those reflections was a deep stillness and contentment, which permeated my experience. There really was little need for words, nor indeed for thoughts. I sat perfectly at peace in this 'foreign' environment, watching people at prayer. No need to analyse, justify, compare or contrast. No need to convert, engage or debate. A deep sense of things being the way they are. Peacefulness seems to be as it was, at that moment. Gratitude seems to be it's own way. Gratitude, Interest, Faith, Understanding .... all were as they were. Not belonging to this or that path, this or that method, or particular person.”

There is great truth to these words, that speak to the place beneath all of our divisions, beneath differences of all sorts, where the common thread is to be found. Here, compassion, connectedness, love, and gratitude unify us. And these wonderful qualities are just what they are: perfect and whole, not needing words or traditions to describe.

Peace to each of you,

Larry said...

What your friend, Chodpa, said calls to mind a Thursday morning visit I made to the cardiac units in our local hospital. I meet all kinds of people in the beds, and pray with all of them, with their permission.

On this occasion the card said a Hindu lady. No one was lying in the bed, but a distinguished looking Indian gentleman was sitting there, who proved to be the patient's son. We had a pleasant conversation, and I asked if he prayed with Christians. He was amenable, and I prayed my usual type of prayer.

I was really struck by his attentiveness and the regard he showed to me after the prayer: it showed exactly what Chodpa was talking about.

According to my lingustic habits anyone who can pray like that is a Christian-- and perhaps I am a Hindu, too.

Praise God.

Marjorie said...

interstices -- this word has been occurring to me a lot recently, the small places between things. I believe Meredith just spoke to this....isn't it nice when things begin to link in one's mind.