Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Visiting

I've included this clip from YouTube because it is a piece of music that I've enjoyed for a long time. I like the quiet feeling that it invokes, the peacefulness of the music. The tune touches my heart and I feel a desire to sit in front of a candle and watch the flame flicker and dance because of a draft in the room. The title of the song speaks to me, Visiting.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about visiting, only I have not been thinking of it in the same term that I think of the title of this song. Recently I visited a dear friend of mine. I had not seen her in a while, but have spoken to her on the phone. She is an elegant lady, snowy white hair that is beautifully coiffed. She has a refined style of dress, simple with little jewelry. All about her makes me think that I'd like to be like her when I grow up. (That was a borrowed statement from a mutual friend.) I would like to be like her when I grow up, yet each of us have our own style, our own personality and while she and I enjoy one another's personality we will never be the same.

During our recent visit we talked about many things, she is a wonderful communicator, she knows how to draw a person out and asks the questions that makes one think about their lives, their philosophy and dare I say goals. I say, “dare I say goals,” because I have always said that I don't have goals, that I have destinations. A person who is goal oriented, in my humble opinion, tends to do what they believe needs to be done in order to achieve their goal. This often means that they will step over any body lying along side the path to get there, they often have a narrowed vision, one that sets the goal before them with nothing else on their mind but the goal. I myself prefer to think of myself as a destination minded person, there are places that I want to get to but I realize that more than one path will take me there. My terminology differs in that along the journey there is much to learn, gleaning to do, and a broader vision. Now, I don't think that there are hard and fast rules about these statements, as a destination minded person I have chosen to keep an open mind about such things and I understand that there are surely those goal oriented who do not have a narrowed vision, though they may not exactly be taking the same kind of journey to the goal. If any of that made sense to you, please let me know and explain it to me. (Actually, I get it.)

My host engaged me in a discussion regarding my decision to change churches in December. She asked a question that I didn't quite expect and have never been asked before, one that I was able to answer without much thought. My answer came quickly, but not with a knee jerk response. (From here in I'll call her Grace, because she is and she needs a name.) “I was pulled to this place by God, led may be a better term, but I had a hard time giving up what had become treasure to me. I understand that there are times when we need to leave our treasure behind in order to find another. Sometimes we have to leave in order to find what God has in store for us, as difficult as it may be to do so, yet, I felt that it was a destination that I must travel to.”

Grace said that my answer was well thought out and yet came quickly, so I surely had given it some thought. I agreed that I had. It was her next question that made my balance tilt just a quarter bubble off plumb and yet it wasn't a question that I had difficulty answering either. She asked me what I was looking for when I went to church. Before I tell the answer let me say that I have been attending an Anglican church for nearly a year now. I felt a drawing to it even though it was far from my faith tradition. There are customs there that I embrace seeing a holiness in it that I found hard to find in the place that I left. When I arrive at church I join others who are kneeling in prayer, preparing their hearts and minds for worship, they look to the cross and possibly they are like me and see the symbol of our salvation. “Grace, I can answer that question as quickly as I answered your other. I attend church for two reasons and there are two things that I seek and I feel confident that I find them there, I can worship there, I can look with awe and wonder upon the body of our savior and offer my gratitude for the tremendous sacrifice that was made for me. I can worship through the symbols of the mass, those symbols being the visual reminders of what I believe. Yet, the equally important reason why I go is because I am seeking peace. Peace of heart, peace of mind, peace that permeates my very being, that peace that is often spoken of in the benediction, the “peace that passes all understanding.” that's what I look for. I think to seek that peace is to look upon the face of God.”

Grace smiled and shook her head, “we all go for different reasons, but I agree with you, those are the reasons to be there.” She followed by telling me that she felt that I am a spiritual person. I told her that I am just a regular man away from home.

When I am in the church, kneeling and praying I ask God for that very peace that passes all understanding. I ask him to fill my entire being with it. I often feel like a beggar visiting a home and begging for a crust of bread, and here I get it. I sometimes feel as though I am visiting the courts of praise and I express my gratitude for the opportunity to visit and to be allowed to sit at the feet of the king. Sometimes I go so far as to boldly ask to be allowed to visit in person soon so that I may know the permanent peace that comes with being in God's presence.

I shared with Grace that I recently lost the best friend that I've ever had, she smiled and said, “it isn't forever.” What wisdom, what grace. I know and fully understand what she said to me is true and is something that can be counted upon as truth, just as I can count upon the Gospel being true, soul food and comfort.

As I drove home from our visit I thought about what she said, “it isn't forever.” Right then, right there at the light at 86th and Michigan Road I agreed with her with passion that it isn't forever, that all of us are just visiting here, we are on loan by God, encouraged to travel to the destination that he has planned for us, taking whatever path the journey lays before us. I was reminded that we're are just visiting, some for a long time in order to teach those of us along the path and some are here on a visit of a short time, maybe they are teaching us as well, in fact, I know they are.

We are just visiting.