After ten rather intense days in England, I woke up this morning to a lovely blue sky and low humidity and a cat who will finally speak to me again after spending ten days at what I tried to convince her was the "spa" but was actually the vet.
When I was reaffirmed by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury a few years ago at Truro, I felt that I was dedicating myself to see this journey all the way through - or at least do my best to not give up. I knew there would be times when I would want to run off and return to that beach in Hawaii where I grew up, with the guitars and the praise songs and dancing and the inspiring message from the scriptures that changed people's lives. That beach crosses my mind from time to time and there were times when I was marching across the Kent University campus around the Big Blue Top that it crossed through my mind again. "There must be some way out of here," Dylan wrote.
And yet, even this morning when I woke up I realized that I have made a commitment to see this through and there would be no leaping from the train, weary though I might be at times, and sad.
What I remember on this journey of "there and back again" are the incredible people, the ones we'd might expect, the one's we never except, new friends, old friends, friends we agree with most of the time, friends we agree with only some of the time, and friends we agree with hardly ever ( but in those rare moments there is gold). The bulwark of those friendships sustains us when, as Dylan says, "the winds begin to howl." And the winds are indeed howling.
When the life of Christ lives in our hearts through the mercy of Jesus, our hope and our redeemer, joy cannot be extinguished. No, it cannot. A woman can stand with her arms folded in defiance, and still our joy cannot be lost. Our hope rests not in the structures and politics of our particular tribe, but in our risen Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are possible and anyone, anyone may be redeemed. There are times like this that I remember that it was never my idea to become a Christian. Nope, that was not on the list of things to do. That was a big surprise.
So we "set our heart on things above" (Col 3) and we continue on this journey, praying that "the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
And I am so grateful for all of you - those whom I know, those whom I've met here at the cafe, and those of you who are our wonderful anons (known only to God - who does know who you are) - I am so grateful for all of you, for all I learn from you, for your fun, your pleas, your admonishments, your insights, your opinions, and yes - even when the cream pies nearly fly - your expressions of frustrations and outrage. For your words that are like kind cups of cool water and for your amazing displays of humor.
I was reminded by a friend in Lambeth who told me the story of Winston Churchill giving a speech during the Blitz at Harrow School (where my cousins now go), Churchill stood up and went to the podium and said simply, " Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in." Except to convictions of honor and good sense, Churchill said, "never give in." We can't give up - not because we are always right, hardly, but because we promised we would not give up. John writes in his first letter, "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." It is not that we are right that empowers us to carry on, but because He is and we want to follow Him.
And then it's time to get back down to earth, to this real world where a car needs to be inspected, the cat needs to be fed, friends are celebrating birthdays, and we have more drama in the Fairfax Courthouse on Monday. And so we read through the latest posts and think about the days ahead - and what do we find, but a surprise.
Okay, maybe we can't have our Hawaii beach today, but someone knows how to throw a great party on a Saturday morning. Thanks Anglican Beach Party - surprises never cease. And life is a beach. You just never know.
The lyrics are here. Paul, you rock.