Let’s take a moment. It is weird right now. So much is going on in the world, this huge global thing, the biggest global event since World War 2, and for most of us, this is the most still we have been in maybe years. Maybe ever. The Tobin Bridge was empty at 8:30 on Friday morning. There aren’t usually many planes flying over Brooksville… there are none now. We are so still, so right where we are and I don’t know about you, but my mind gets a-racing sometimes. Falling asleep last night, the reel of bad headlines kept streaming through my mind. You know that litany of troubles. The world is so nuts; yet we are so still. And even while we are so still, our minds swirl.
So let’s take a moment. Let us take the stillness we have taken upon ourselves for the good of everyone else, and turn it around; let us be still together with God. Because being still in the midst of the storm, but having a storm raging within, not only is that not good for us, but it doesn’t need to be that way. So let’s breathe together for a moment. A minute.
Get comfortable. I appreciate the contemplative prayer world, and maybe I’ll connect with some folks here who do that and see if we can do some kind of teaching and praying together, but we’ll be very simple today. We’ll just breathe together, let’s follow the human tide, simply breathing in and breathing out. So get comfortable. Close your eyes or gaze off into something un-distracting. Breathe… AMEN. How is that for prayer? That is what that was, contemplative prayer.
When those moments come, and things seem tight inside, you are worried, feel trapped, feel scared, feel powerless… you are not in fact powerless. In Christ and with Christ and through Christ, actually, you have all the power in the world. Not to change the world, but to change yourself, to change your reaction to the world. (Well, with a changed self we will change the world, but we’ll get to that another day). This is the heart of faith. And we enact our faith, we embody it, when we do things like pause and breathe. Just breathe in and think of nothing else. That is you participating in the sacrament of the present moment. Or go to the window and just gaze out: the trees are the same as they were yesterday, and they will be the same tomorrow. Or go to a lonely beach: the sun rises and sets as it always does; the tides ebb and flow as they always do. Your center is where it always is, right here. Right here, the still small voice of God, the love of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit… it is right there with you, always.
So that’s you; here we are. Well, I guess we aren’t anywhere, not in the mammalian, fleshy way St. Paul is talking about in his letter to the church in Rome. We are in Blue Hill. Segwick. Surry. I am on Cape Rosier. Boca Raton? Charlotte? Where else? Hit your unmute button on the bottom right had corner of your screen. (Move your cursor and it will pop up). Say where you are.
St. Francis, this little church on the hill and by the sea in Maine, is stretched out this far. We are all over the place. We always are, that is the nature of a community like ours, one that includes a bunch of folks who are not here all the time. So in a way, we are well suited to our current situation. We are used to loving over long distances, we are used to being a community apart. Who knew such skills would be so important.
Being apart. Windy and I were talking, and one of the things that really stands out for her is that for us to be in solidarity with each other, to get to that promised land in this moment of COVID-19, we need to be apart. Together, we are working hard to protect the most vulnerable, the most at risk. Together we are protecting each other by staying apart. Our nation is doing that, you are doing that each day you are at home, we are doing that holy work right now in the sacred hour most of us reserve each week to join together for the eternal and actual encounter the Risen Christ together at Mass. We are doing that together, apart, for the sake of the world.
This all matters, obviously, the flesh, your flesh, the living world that God created and we inhabit. It matters a lot. Jesus wouldn’t have joined us here for His mission of reconciliation if this didn’t matter. The thing is, and this is what is important to us in the very moment, is that the flesh, the embodied, the seen, in the world, that is not the end of the story. There is a whole lot more going on, as we say in the Creed, a whole lot of unseen going on.
Physically, we are dispersed. Across the peninsula, across Maine, across the country. Jane Reinoso is in Ecuador (and is doing well, there). We could look at it like our minds get, scattered. Swirling. From one angle, there is no center to our community because we are so apart; that is what we see. But unseen ties bind us. The shared faith and vision of this community holds us. When we “set the mind on the spirit…” as St. Paul teaches, it is “…life and peace.” Not “like life and peace” but is itself “life and peace.” And that is what this community can do. That is what we are doing right now, participating in life and peace in the Spirt together, while apart.
The heart of St. Francis is beating right now, strongly. I am just getting to know you all, but I can sense the strength here. There is love here. There is experience and wisdom here. There is forgiveness and flexibility in this body. There is resilience here. We are linked together by the infinite unseen sinews of faith, which, in this moment, are facilitated by the infinite seen electrons that carry our voices and images to the four winds.
There are a lot of unknowns in the world right now. A lot of suffering. A lot of fear. When your chest tightens with another grim story on NPR, when you get anxious, when you despair, breathe. Soothe thy self. When it just seems too much, remember the faces you would see on a regular Sunday morning, think of the faces you are seeing right now, as we gather together, though we are apart. So take care of yourself, settle in to this new normal, and get ready, because the needs of this already broken world are growing exponentially right before our eyes. People of faith are needed, desperately right now, and we will answer Christ’s call. Take care of yourself and “…wait for the Lord, for with the Lord, there is mercy.” AMEN