Thursday, July 31, 2008

Artist and Engineer

This morning, as early as I could, I went out and transplanted the flower plants I got yesterday. About this time every year, I like to put more flowers in my garden, and I usually get what I can, without any expectations. Most of the plants are very inexpensive because they are the left-overs, the left-behinds and not the exotic, sought after varieties that the structured, prepared gardeners purchased in the spring. I purchase what I can on a limited budget and go with what's available. I dig with what few tools I have, get dirt everywhere, don't wear gloves, and enjoy the elbow-deep experience of what God is doing in my midst - despite or in spite of my feeble efforts. It's not well thought out but thoroughly enjoyed. I learned to garden from my mother and grandfather, who are both artists in their own right, and eclectic, successful gardeners. I don't garden in the Martha Stewart way, with plans and calendars and schedules. I go with what I can afford, when it's a good day, and don't look forward or back - just enjoy them right here and now. I take an artist's approach, seeking what is revealed in the process of planting.

I am reminded that we tend, as an institutional Church, and as the Anglican communion, to take an engineer's approach to the process of planting and growing. We measure and make specks and write. Then we talk and argue and go over things again and worry furiously, not wanting to have to make mistakes and yank things up. All the while, nothing has been planted, nothing has the chance to grow. No one gets too messy either, in good Anglican fashion. Well, except for those people and missions who are set aside waiting for a resolution - a plan. And those set aside can whither and die, while we chat each other up and express ourselves endlessly. I would like to argue for an artist's approach, knowing that our great Creator, fashioned us in a process of getting in the dirt, breathing on the wind and moving ribs and other things around. God got busy with the tools and used the available gifts in creation. I would like us, for a change, to get out there and get dirty, to get elbow deep and realize we might fail, and might have to do some replanting, reworking, re -hydrating in order to be a community acting for the love of Christ. The older I get the more I know that there is no one blue print for us all but that we each, as people, families, communities, dioceses, provinces and churches must work out our call through digging in, getting dirty and letting God bring the increase. We are called to marvel and enjoy the artistry, complexity and diversity of God's kingdom.

"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3

I want this day to be able to marvel in God's artistry and diversity. We humans want plans desperately, but the God I understand, moving through us and in creation, wants love and beauty for us. Desires for us to be instruments, canvasses, gardens, and artists in expressing God's love and desire for the world - and in so doing inviting all the world to our Father's House.
May we bishops, may we Anglicans, may we Christians have the courage to love the world, to plant and pray, expecting God's harvest, in the midst of God's spectacular creation.

Morning Prayer
Wondrous Creator,
you fashioned us in marvelous artistry and you alone have brought us to this day. Take the people you have fashioned and replant us in vibrant, life-giving soil. Let our roots grow deep in compassion, let our leaves reach out in love. Let us be an example for the world that we are your creation, your people and gifts in this world. Give us the strength to get dirty, to welcome the diversity and the mess that we are, that we might see you face to face in one another. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer

Heavenly Father,
you have built us a home where everyone can live and see expressions of their art and lives in your many rooms. Help us to find rest and comfort in the diversity of your love. Help us to be renewed this night in your complex and complete compassion for the world. Help us to look not for a final plan but for a complete companion in You and in one another. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.


Donna McNiel said...

Bishop Gallagher-

I've been reading your blog daily now for about month. Thank you for your thoughtful messages.

Your image of gardening is the most beautiful and helpful that I've read in the past few days about the move toward creating some kind of final authority in the communion. I hope we can learn to plant without a plan.

You've also encouraged me to continue gardening despite my utter ineptitude!


mamabishop said...

Dear Donna,
Thanks for your comment. I notice I can think more clearly when I am covered in dirt. Don't know what that says about me but hope it encourages you.



Anonymous said...

You make a good point about failure. it seems like many don't want to even attempt something that MIGHT fail at. Sad.