Sunday, August 26, 2007

The image of the Father joins the dance

Thunder wakes me at 3:00 am and I find myself out in the hallway looking at 4 prints in a memorial to Joe Whelan, SJ. Two were at his desk for years. They are a crucified Christ and an enlargement of Jesus's face. It's like hitting a zoom button looking from one to another. I don't know much about the man but I read about how he faced cancer. That brought a print of the resurrected Christ to his office. Then to the right is a Mark Rothko print that brought him into connection with Jesus. But I am thinking about the Father.

Sister Maria has asked me to read scripture and it has thrown me for a loop. I don't want this loop, and I will resist. It is Hebrews 12: 5-7 & 11-13. The book I will be reading from has that whole section. I copy it to practice. I see the handout for worship says only 5-7. Yesterday Father Lucien said there are time to listen to God and not do what you are being told to do. I need to read 11-13. I need to finish with, "Heals." Basically it is describing God as a father who disciplines us. It is clear that it is out of love, but my mind races to those who had abusive fathers and how that relationship destroys this image of God. I want my mind to stay there, that is enough, but my medical trauma comes racing back for all of those trips to a urologist basically created a soul that was abused as a child. How can I read this? I need wisdom.

I ask Sophia for wisdom, God for love, and Jesus for forgiveness. I beg. I say, I can't read this without your help. I leave Father Whelan, say a prayer, and go back to sleep.

I wake two hours later than normal. Adrenaline shocks me and there will be no need for coffee or tea this morning. I do eat and shave, but there is little time to reflect before I am sitting with Sister Maria. I say, "Do you know what that passage contained?" What do I sense a conspiracy involving her and all the spirits?

She says, No. And I think, God is strange. I tell her it is about the Father and add this story: Saturday afternoon in the heat I catch a ride on an elevator with an elderly Jesuit and two African-American women (no this is no joke). The Jesuit says, "What floor Father?"

I am 44 and this is a first. I have never been called a father before. I head to the OED and definition 4 is my only hope.

The Father has joined the dance.

I spend the rest of the morning doodling. It is large so it takes up a lot of time. I draw Sophia one side of a circle, I am on the other. We are in a biological cell and we are sending out spindle fibers to grab the dark DNA which is evil. Not sure if the analogy works, not sure if I love the outcome of the doodle, but it kept me distracted, while listening to Marian McPartland's In My Life. The tune 'What's New' speaks to me and I wished there were vocals.

I am sitting waiting for mass to start. My hands are shaking. The psalm is read and I get up to read. I silently ask for calm. I ask to provide hope to those who were abused and cleansing for the abusers. I read with spirit. I feel blessed.

I take the bread and wine. I have settled a bit. Then we get up to sing the closing hymn... Sing a New World into Being. It is filled with wonderful imagery and is placed to a favorite melody. I cry.

The afternoon is restless. I try to distract myself with math puzzles and Count Basie's Atomic Basie. Who brings a CD with a mushroom cloud to a silent retreat? I spend and hour reflecting on Wisdom 7: 22-30. It starts with 21 adjectives and then has some amazing imagery. One of Sophia being the image of God in a mirror. I want to flee and drink beer and eat Mexican food, but instead I go to the sanctuary. I will sit here and pray until the masses have moved through the line getting food.

"Be Still" Who is that in my head? "Know that I am God." Is it Sophia, The Father, Jesus? It doesn't matter, but my evening has moved in a new direction.

I eat more mindful than I have all week, well I did take a bigger piece of cake than I planned, but what can one do when one finds banana cake. My mom's present to me all those years as a child. The woman who I told to eat to tomato salad walks by with a piece of cake, I give her a silent thumbs up. She smiles with me. I am not in this alone.

I move to my room and start my third reflection of the day. Yesterday I wrote a letter from Sophia, today I write her back. My hand tires and I want to take this stillness outside where I see what may be warblers and hear what surely is a red-bellied woodpecker. God the Creator is here too. I walk by some fresh cement and the punk in me wants to spell out, "IGGY WAS HERE."

Something is welling up as I sit watching the sun set, I need to go back to Sophia. I tell her about the urologist and now I am crying about this wound from my childhood. Three years ago I spent an 8 day retreat slowly bringing Mary and Jesus, and then my dad nd later even the doctor showed up in his own office with tears running down his face. We cried all week. How many images of God do I need to bring here? Is there room for Sophia and The Father?

I pull out A Man isn't supposed to cry by Joe Williams. It is the last track on the CD. I randomly choose track 4 and one of my favorite standards floats into my head.... I'm Through With Love. I love the line about placing one's heart in an "icy Frigidaire."

I have three more full days of silence left. Where am I going to place my heart? Every image of God I can imagine is blocking my path to the refrigerator.


  1. thank you for sharing this, wayne.

    it feels a bit weird to comment on a journal entry from a silent retreat. but then this IS a blog, isn't it?

    so much here that touches my heart. i heard "what's new" in my head as i was reading it, and i saw before me a retreat centre i visited in the summer.

    the fight with the images. yes. only in the last few years am i beginning to understand that god the father does not have to be the vengeful, crazy man that i see depicted in the god who orders abraham to sacrifice his son. THAT one is not one that puts my heart on ice but one that puts it on fire in fury! "how DARE you ...?!"

    images of god that stand in the way of our relationship with god. something that most people never get to thinking/dreaming about. what a blessing that you had the space to reflect on that.

    some religions don't want us to have images of god, and i understand the thinking behind it: you won't get it right. but we ARE a species that lives by imagination. so i guess we go around imagining and if we're lucky, we remember now and then that our image(s) of god are not the same as god.

  2. Isabella-- it was strange to blog while being silent, it was the only thing I did on the copmuter other than check the weather (my one obsession)

    I am honored that you are reading my older posts.


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