Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism This Week

I have really loved doing this Lawn Chair Catechism, it's like the midweek jolt to my soul. "Wake up stupid! You're supposed to be doing something!!! Do you even know what that is you are supposed to be doing?"  I need a GPS with the step by step directions out of the driveway for my soul, every day.  Even though I've been trying to drive this route every day.  

Resurrection, Ascension, New Life, Adoption, and the Kingdom:  The Cross is not the end of the story.  Seekers can investigate the historical evidence for the reality of the resurrection.  Satisfied with that evidence, they can move on to asking, “What does this mean for me?”

In special education, there is a diagnosis called "learning disabilities" which is a general term for wherever along the process of seeing/hearing (visual disorder) interpreting (processing disorder/language issue) analyzing (associative disorder) responding (writing/speaking), the information gets stuck.  I think the soul gets stuck in the process along the way as well. 

Many of us hold the seed in our hearts, we have heard the resurrection story and we believe it.  We see/hear correctly.  But we might think it either impossible to get there (despair) or spend our lives wringing our hands over everything in a false attempt at perfection (also despair) making ourselves miserable and thinking this is what God wants. (form of gnosticism and scrupulosity mixed together, toxic spiritual cocktail).  It is why we need the gift of knowledge that Jesus ascended to prepare a place for us. He is anticipating us coming to him as his friends, as his guests, as his family.   He is preparing a room, it has already been set aside, we have to will to get there.  Predetermination is not in play here.  It is an invitation. He has invited us.  How we live determines our RSVP. 

To take on new life is to revision everything we do.  But we forget.  We forget often. I know I do.  So we need the reminders of the sacraments and scripture, of daily prayer and corporeal acts of mercy and the lives of the saints, sacramentals, all of it, to pound through to our heads and hearts, you're invited. Come to the table. Come to my heart.  Come.   

But we might still think, He can't mean me.  And if He does mean me?  What does that mean?

It means we've been adopted.  That's radical, we've been grafted into His family. At any celebration we want every guest to come. We want everyone at every reunion, even the crazy uncle who smokes and has tattoos. (I had one of those, he gave us quarters and told scary stories, he smelled of tobacco and was both fascinating and frightening at the same. He suffered from schizophrenia).  We need to recognize, for all our preening, we aren't that different from the crazy uncle.  We're still invited with all our faults, all our failings, all our sins.  

And that means, being the Kingdom here, not waiting until death.  Starting today.  If I smoked, it would be time for a cigarette to steady the nerves.  
The seeker thus comes to a final set of thresholds: Jesus asks me to follow him.  He forgives my sins.  I’m ready to drop the net and become a disciple.

For discussion:

In your own faith:
  • Are you practiced in sharing the Gospel story? Have you ever heard it told especially well.  
Yes.  I've watched it lived out in the story of my parents, in their friends and in their care for their family, both immediate, extended and adopted.  They took in cousins. They took in crazy uncles. They took on other missions along the way.  It was never about them.  Even now, my mother goes every day to the home where my father receives 24-7 care. She brushes his teeth. She sits with him at meals. She brings him the Eucharist.  

My father for many years of my life, took me to church, made me say the rosary rather than talk or fight with my brothers, read to me from books I could not understand, like giving a novice a taste of fine wine.  I could not understand the highlights or the special nature of the drink, I drank anyway.   Now, he does not do these things, but I have seen him and he still lights up to receive. He holds in the deeper parts of his memory and fights through the Alzheimer's for bits of the rosary and to take communion.  His face lights up when he sees Mom, it is a form of "Hello." It is silent, but it is real.  

I know the Gospel story, I know how to splice moments into everyday life. My children are well practiced at rolling their eyes, not because I cite scripture or Christ's teachings, but because usually, when I get it nailed down, they agree, fold the resistance and life resumes. I know in my head always to ask,  "Is it right? Is it just? Is it kind?" before speaking and acting.  But I struggle with the living it out part. 
  • How can you become more skilled at explaining and answering questions about the Gospel?  Prayer, reading, and practice.  Plus asking God to place me, to push me, to show me where he wants me to work, and then give me the will to do what he has placed before me, to not be distracted by all the things that so easily distract me.  My daughter came to me and said, "I'm hungry."  I said, "I'm writing. Let me finish this."  She said, "It's going to take a long time." and another daughter agreed, "It would." But when I tried to stay on task (this task), all hell broke lose. There were deer in the back yard which sent a child running at them, a toilet clogged and there was a fight of pecking order amongst two of the middles over a card game.  Everything seemed to spill over and I admittedly ran back to the comfort and safety and illusory control of the computer.  But the words, "I'm hungry." came back to me where I was sitting, so I got up again, and started to take care of things. 
  • I thought I'd finished when a daughter came to me and said, "Mom, when are we going?" I'd forgotten about how yesterday I promised to take two or three of them to the mall for back to school shoe shopping.  Writing would have to be put off again.  The other day a writer asked in a forum, "How do you find time to write and how do you help your family understand?"  
  • The reality is they aren't supposed to understand, they come first.  They have priority. It isn't easy. It isn't always fun, and I certainly don't always have the temperament to sublimate my desires to my vocation.  I come grudgingly to plunge the toilets and hound the child to pick up the toys he just tossed off the table, I come irritated to clean the dishes and fold the laundry and run the errands.  Absent grace I come annoyed to climb the stairs and wipe down the counters and do all that the daily life of a family demands.  But with grace, all these actions become better, become what they should be, acts of love.  
  • So, the call has been given, and I have to serve.  It's a matter of not objecting to the nature of the service, which is where my ego, my sins, my desires wrestle with my soul and what is right.  Another daughter comes into the room. She is sick. I call the doctor to schedule an appointment.  "When are we going?" "Right now."  That is the answer.  It is always the answer.  
I'll be back after I take two to the mall and the other daughter to the doctor's.  

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