Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Even the church is dizzy
I hope you don’t mind your inclusion in the Rolodex prayers of an octogenarian, who finds it helpful to glance at the names of those who are most important to him while he holds them in prayer. The One who listens to my prayers knows your name even when my little card file is out of focus or out of reach. Day by wonderful day I give thanks for you, and ask the pardon of the Listener and you for my mostly-inadvertent failures, oversights and neglect.
God creates, then stands back and gives encouragement, sometimes like Dr. Spock with a halo instead of a hat with a cat, and sometimes like a boxing coach whose lessons include broken noses and scattered teeth. That’s why there are gaps in my smile.
The Creator has allowed me two wives, not simultaneously, three children, six grandchildren and countless friends and acquaintances, and others whose dislike for me is invincible. The Giver of life has allowed me 85 years so far. As I approach maturity I hope for a few more years to explore it, to ponder love and the denial of love, health and the absence of health. I’ll write fewer notes and letters.
The Lord of years has let me enjoy my work, but often at the expense of my family. The Teacher has let me make foolish and smart choices, has let me neglect some responsibilities and meet others, all while I taught, preached, reported, wrote, met and grew dizzy. Coincidentally, the church grew dizzily aware that large numbers of clergy had engaged in sex crimes, while church officials lied to the public and even to each other. At the same time the Catholic Church continued a painful decline in the number of priests and seminarians, and a diminished pool from which bishops are chosen.
My dizzy disease is rare and incurable, which makes it different from the dizzy instability of the churches. I sometimes feel as though I’m standing unsteadily at the edge of the Grand Canyon, only one misstep between me and a fall, but I’m never standing there alone.