The accent helps. When Dean Robert speaks from the Deanery gardens of the Canterbury Cathedral, I listen carefully. The setting calms. And the daily lessons from the Bible, reflections and prayers help me turn around to Faith the Day, instead of giving into fear, anger or utter despair.
This morning the Dean sat in the orchard, reading from Psalm 50. In such a place it takes no leap to grasp this truth of God, “I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends.”.” (v.11 The Message) So, what do you get for someone who has everything? God, in this psalm, answers, “I want your true thanks…your trust in times of trouble.” (from v.14 and 15) But, some days it’s a struggle to be thankful and trusting.
Well, God must love listening to and observing one old Dean who pats the head of Clemmie, the pig, while sharing the biblical story of Peter’s vision about unclean animals from the book of Acts. Or, like today, when he paused to note a bird’s song. A reminder we’re “guests in the robin’s territory.” But frequently, this priest’s gentle ways and the serenity of the garden contrast sharply with the harshness of words and acts that pummel me daily. They challenge my sense of what’s real and true. Often, I wonder what signs are worth following in this strange time in which you and I journey. Which reminds me that travel is one aspect of life I miss most these days.
That longing, sends me, now and then, looking at photos of where I’ve been and with whom. Like in 2007 when Jud and I joined friends for a cruise to Norway, Sweden and Denmark with the Prairie Home Companion musicians, actors and Garrison Keillor. Inside that travel file, I found this joke.
“Reverend Ole was the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church and Pastor Sven was the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road. I saw them yesterday standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground that read:
“Da End iss Near! Turn Yourself Aroundt Now! Before It’s Too Late!”
As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled: ‘Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” From the curve we heard screeching tires and a big splash…
Rev. Ole turned to Pastor Sven and asked:
“Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say ‘Bridge Out’?”
So, you’re wise to ask, “What’s your point? ” Well, we’ve lost some bridges in this country. Sometimes we’ve harmed ourselves or others by ignoring signs. Some signs or leaders delivered confusing messages. However, there’s still time to turn around or rebuild bridges. For example, trust in God and thanks to God are essential bridges to keep us from crashing and drowning in despair, anger or fear. They’re also important signs to heed.
Each day from his garden perch Dean Robert says, “Wherever you are in the world, please feel welcome.” We all need welcoming words and ways. Yesterday, he reminded us to “say our prayers in a spirit of enormous thanksgiving.”
And so I did and do again, offer to God, who needs nothing, my enormous gratitude and too-timid trust. I am thankful for family, friends, Dean Robert and a garden in Canterbury. Oh, and I’m “tankful” for a cruise complete with a “yoke” to tell my brothers, when I can travel again. It’s better told in person. The accent helps.
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