Dark, rainy days most often make me want to hunker down inside and read with my animals surrounding me – in my imagination it’s a Norman Rockwell print of peace and tranquility in the animal kingdom. The truth is Buddy gets as excited to walk in the rain as he does in the sunshine when I pick up his leash. And when I try to carefully and non-anxiously explain to Ringo that it’s raining and cats don’t like water so therefore it’s not reasonable for me to let him out, he howls as if I’m pulling his leg off and one morning proceeded to walk directly toward me and bite my knee. Really?!? So the whole Norman Rockwell print of the American life of a pastor with a dog and 2 cats on a rainy day is not particularly a little slice of Americana suitable for a greeting card or magazine cover.
It sorta feels like that’s been the lesson in these past 10 rainy days. Getting ready one morning and listening to one of the news programs, I heard Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, being interviewed about his 3rd brain tumor, which was discovered in August this year. It’s benign, as were the other two, and he is a survivor of testicular cancer in 1997. His journey has been unique both in the diagnoses he’s battled and being in the public eye as an Olympic medalist and now a commentator for the sport.
He talks in many of his interviews about how having health problems and treatments at a young age caused his parents, on a random day, to want to give him a break from the intensity, so they “happened” to stop at a skating rink. Hamilton says he believes there was purpose in those circumstances as it started his passion for the sport. His perspective of faith, along with his personality, has allowed him to meet each of the battles he’s fought with a spirit that says “a day is a day, and I want more of those!”
It really is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? The way we live each day. There are certainly circumstances that can buoy us up or bring us down – and we can see and name those, sometimes quite easily and clearly. At the same time, each day, as Hamilton says, is of value and we can decide if we have the spirit to want more of those, even when the circumstances seem quite bleak, or rainy and cold and windy and not very spring-like.
The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church came out with their decision last Friday that, in fact, in their interpretation of “self-avowed and practicing homosexual” as our Book of Discipline prohibits persons being ordained or appointed, applies to the Office of Bishop and that a Bishop in a same gender marriage is therefore not acceptable. At the same time, current Bishop Karen Oliveto remains a consecrated and serving Episcopal leader in the Mountain Sky Area of the Western Jurisdiction and will remain so until and unless that Jurisdiction decides, through due process as outlined in the Book of Discipline, otherwise.
Sound confusing? Yes, it sounds that way to me too, and my explanation is both simplistic and not nearly as nuanced as the decision, which you can read online. Basically, by Judicial interpretation of the Book of Discipline and, from their perspective with a vote of 6-3, she shouldn’t be there and/but it’s the Western Jurisdiction’s responsibility to take action on her position. The encouragement from the denominational leaders in general is to continue to have patience for the “called” General Conference in February 2019, when the “Commission on the Way Forward” will offer a plan or plans for vote on how we move into the future as a deeply divided denomination.
I wonder if it gets cold, windy, and rainy as spring and new life seek to take hold in the realms of God’s presence when communities of faith fight and vote and prohibit and condemn and dissent and talk of schism and “principled” disagreement and in the end, perhaps, lose sight of, “a day is a day, and we want more of those,” as Scott Hamilton would say. Do we want more of those if it means another day of up-standing for those whose voices are not always heard or who are discriminated against or bullied? Do we want more of those if it means being challenged to love those we’ve positioned ourselves against as unlovable? Do we want more of those if it means confronting our own weaknesses and temptations in allowing those with whom we have grave disagreements to have power over our ability to offer hospitality, generosity, and openness in the midst of our disagreements? Do we want more of those if following Jesus means we lose what we’ve decided is valuable in life in order to gain the promise and integrity of our faith?
I guess looking like a perfect “slice of Americana” Norman Rockwell painting is probably not in the cards for my animal menagerie and myself on rainy fireside book-reading days. We’re more apt to look a little post-dog-walking soggy, a little feline temper-tantrum-y I’m going to knock all your precious books OFF your favorite armchair reading lamp table, and a little broken-heartedly United Methodist pastor-y. Someday, we’ll extend grace to all God’s children where “all means all.” Until then and while we’re walking toward then, we can decide that a day is a day and that, indeed, we do want more of those.