Thursday, May 22, 2008

Contemplating the Shire

Several years ago, when things were very challenging in my ministry, I used to refer to going to a particular meeting as "going down to Mordor". There was always an ominous, tense feeling in the approach, and the background theme music in my life seemed to darken immediately. Yesterday someone wondered out loud whether I wasn't trying to "return to the Shire". I have never thought about myself as a hobbit, or really one who gets wrapped up in fantasy and literary imagery. But I am contemplating the Shire - that place where life and love happens, where tender people have full lives and where the truth can be written down in its time.

I stand in a unique place and time in the history of the Anglican Communion. As the only Indigenous female bishop throughout the Communion, and among the first women to be elected bishop, I also have a unique perspective on the Church. It has not been a very welcoming place, and there have been a number of battles that have been waged against my kind of folks. We have tread where we don't belong, some people think, either silently or out loud. I have gone to Mordor way too often on behalf of Christ whom I serve. Sometimes the best place to go is to the Shire, so that the stories can be shared and the truth told. So that lives can be restored and relationships healed and bodies mended. And new dreams and visions can occur.

I invite us all to consider where God is calling us today. To our battle stations, or to the place of healing and transformation? To the place of conflict or the place of growth? I know that God is calling me to tend my garden and to grow new fruit for the reign of God. That requires a place of water, light and tender care. Battles destroy gardens, tear up tender plants and mash down all life. I want to be an agent for the restoration that God has in store for each of us and our Communion. God grant us all the strength today to be tender gardeners in God's fields.

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