elusive angels

How does a story come to be?

I used to think that one must have an idea; that there must be some complex logo-rhythm that would relate character, plot and symbol into a meaningful whole.   But now I am not so sure.

Through Advent and Lent a story has been evolving on the blogs (Love Blooms Bright and Beauty from Chaos).   It is a story about angels, a story about God, and a story about what it means for the Word to become Incarnate.  Sometimes, I’ve been quite pleased with the posts.  I loved Sophia’s insistence in Wisdom Exaulteth and am still amused by sulky Jophiel in Look Again.  It’s too soon to be sure which of the Lent stories I may like.  They are too close and there is insufficient distance to see.

These stories have been fun to write, but I am not really sure where they come from.  Do they form a coherent theology?  Perhaps.  But if so, it is not the theology I would have expected to write, nor would I have realised how much I want an illustrator.

How did angels come to take centre stage?  Certainly not by my planning or intention.

Yet there they are, week after week, telling me their stories, and forcing their way onto the page.  It is fun, and confusing too.  Is there more that needs to be written, or is this it?  Do the characters live for these blogs, or is there something bigger going on here?

I kind of hope that Jophiel and Zadkiel will stick around.  I’d like to see Sophia again too.  But this seems to be their choice and not mine.  I am sure they will stay with us through Good Friday, but have no sense at all what angels might do, come Easter.

wind-rush, feather bright

Today, the sun is shining, the cat is purring, and I’m off to visit the flamingoes.  In the absence of a pancake party, they seem to be the right companions for Mardi Gras.  There is a strange giddiness in the early spring.  All around the world is whispering, ‘hope, dream, dare.’

For many years, it was the solemnity of Lent that I loved — the very challenge of it, as I walked through the cold blustry days of an East Neuk winter, or the unending snow of a New England March.  I was fairly strict with myself then, keeping absolute fasts, carefully planning Lenten disciplines, finding it very hard to go to lectures or teach lessons on Ash Wednesday, never really relaxing till I was in church.

But it feels different now.  Either I have become lazier, or my sense of God has become more gracious.

Discipline is important.  I know how much difference it makes to pray in stable patterns:  early morning silence, daily office, Eucharist. And I know that to do that, other patterns must be stable too:  bed times and rising, meeting times and meals.  The rhythms of the day, the rhythms of the liturgical year — at times, a hassle; at times, lost in busyness or complexity, but ultimately–  a gift given to us for freedom.

When I set out on my jubilee year, it was a claiming of the freedom of the desert.  I was leaving my work behind.  I was leaving my patterns of life behind.  I left knowing — at last knowing — what had long been true:  that we can’t control what people think of us or say of us or make of our stories.  There are lots of times in life when truth and perception fail to meet, and we find ourselves alternately on both sides of that chasm.

I’m learning to live with that.  And that is a form a discipline too.

I want this Lent to be about freedom.  I’m hoping for a warm blustery March that will shake us all of our illusions and leave us laughing in the midst of God’s grace.  And I want that even in — especially in — those parts of our lives where pain remains, where new pains arise, where we cause and are caused harm, despite all our desires to the contrary.

And then, at Easter, I want kites.  Bright shards of joy, riding on the winds.

I should not write when I wake giddy and yearning for flamingoes.  It is sloppy and careless.  A messy Mardi Gras parade.  So be it.  Today is for feathered flurry.  Order and ashes tomorrow.

Lent Blog 2012

For the first time in several years, the Lent Blog is happening.

These seasonal blogs have been such a fascinating journey.  They began very firmly within the Scottish Episcopal Church, written by clergy and laity from across the province, and with an official fanfare on the SEC web page.   A lot of the contributors had never blogged before.  Some had never really written before.  I spent a lot of time teaching people to use WordPress and saying ‘of course you can…’

Over the years, I had to spend less and less time teaching WordPress.  Now I am quite cavalier about it.  I simply say ‘If you need help call. Otherwise, happy blogging.’

Both the readers and writers have changed, too.  I still think of Beauty from Chaos and Love Blooms Bright as a vaguely SEC blogs — but the truth is that several of us now live in England, we are no longer even vaguely ‘official’, and a lot of our readership comes from the States.  I love that the blogs find their own home.  This sort of organic sharing feels far more expressive of the Anglican Communion than any conceivable covenant.

But one thing has remained constant.  I still spend a lot of time saying ‘of course you can.’  There has not been a single season when we haven’t had a new blogger on board — someone who was not quite sure whether they should be doing this, or what they might have to say.  Because we are blessed with a few very loyal and highly skilled authors and artists who provide the ballast, it has always felt easy to take the risk.    Sometimes people join in and find that really blogging is not for them.  Other times, they take wing and soar.  And that is exciting.

This Lent, the blog will be produced by familiar voices from the Advent Blog, by old friends returning, and by those I would never have met were it not for the blogs.

As always, I find great hope in that.  I hope you will join us too at Beauty from Chaos.