Monday, October 09, 2006

Readjusting to Ecumenical Life

The weekend was spent getting reacquainted with my wife, Darlene, with our old friends, Dennis Vigil and Susan Cross, and exploring the Mall of America. All of this shift away from a regimented lifestyle to one with loved ones (not to mention the temple to the god of Consumerism!) was a welcome respite--but, it is now difficult to get back into the swing of things. After over thirty years as a couple, the bonds of love are strong and there is a ripping experience that takes place whenever separation occurs. Thus, I was in the dumps the rest of today after seeing Darlene off.

Within minutes, I was in the midst of an academic discussion of the Rule of the Master, a predecessor to Benedict's Rule in the Latin tradition. I just sat there somewhat numb, trying to let my mind and heart readjust to the passions and rigors of academic work again. At lunch, the topic of ecumenical dialog came up and I found myself wishing I could somehow express how painful it is to try and engage in productive discussion whenever, by so doing, one is automatically somewhat ostracized by one's own tradition. I have found that the passion which motivates me to explore the overall "catholicity" of the large capital-T Christian Tradition marks me out as suspect by those whom I count as my most natural friends and family. At times, it would be so much easier just to go on one's sectarian way.

But, then, at Evening Prayer tonight, I couldn't believe it. The opening hymn was, "O For a Thousand Tongues." All day long I had been wondering, "What am I doing here?" That hymn and the monks singing it in their slow and deliberate way, reminded me that Wesley is embraced as someone who explored the margins of that great Tradition. His voice is an important one in the larger ecumenical dialogue and unless we, his heirs, take our place at the table, that crucial voice will be missing.

So, as the weather cools and even the dreaded "s"-word (snow) is heard on the weather forecaster's lips, I know that I am here for a purpose. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and do the hard thing. I guess I'd better get busy and pull up a chair.