Release and the Tree

Some days I spend hours in church. In gathering, in the building where we gather. I suppose the rest of my days may involve a process of “churching” begun recently — or did it begin long, long ago?

This past summer Timothy and I went to several early liturgies, as newly-ordained Fr. Daniel “served” his first forty times at St. John’s. People from the church community came to support Daniel when they could. During those lagging mornings, tiredness dragged at me, the exhaustion borne of battle within my mind.

I was torn in two.

On one side, voices raged, forces pushed, arguments spoke tirelessly. Their refrains, from deep inside me,  were familiar, ceaseless, and yet at the same moment they were curious things. They suggested in the strongest terms that I was not supposed to be doing what I was doing. Liturgy was wrong; the Church was wrong. The Church, after all, did not exist (hadn't I believed this many long seasons?), and I should have no part in practices that would influence me toward what must be rejecting the Messiah’s teachings.

All the while this din was raised, however, a gentle, joyful, tender yet solidly resilient theme capered in the air, in curly-cues of incense smoke rising through sunbeams. I didn’t know exactly all it was saying/singing/waltzing, but I did see in every instance of the battle trying to be joined with it by the raging voices in my mind that it carefully refused to take any bait. Wise, it neither rushed to trot out irrational retaliations nor subjected me to academic rationality (rationalizations?).

It simply was. The theme existed without a problem: the theme presented my heart’s desire. The only thing necessary. Mary has chosen that which shall never be taken from her.

For years in the past, I got close to that essentiality and joyed greatly in doing so. I believed the gospel which Jesus came to present was the thing. I would carry and share it forever.

But back then I was plucking a ripe plum from the branch and missing the reality of the tree. The Tree. The Man. Branches lifted for me to climb toward my desireful destination. The Man who is God. Back then I ate the plum while believing the encouragement to disbelieve in the Tree. Mary sat at his feet, listening to him speak. Mary loved him with all her being; Martha got something of this love but was distracted from it. I was somewhere in between, caught in folds of reality by philosophy’s shiny grasp.

I am allowed now, the theme that capers and kisses reminds me, to climb. To grow. Interactive to the ten-thousandth degree, the Tree will grow into me, as I into it; its energies will come and make their abode with me, as it has with the frail yet faithful. From the beginning. From generation to generation.

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