Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Joy for Shane and Elizabeth

I went to Holy Cross Monastery (an order of Episcopal Benedictine monks) for the life-professions of my friends, Shane and Elizabeth as the first members of the Companions of Mary, the Apostle.

Here's what is amazing--this is a new order within the Episcopal Church. Shane and Elizabeth have been living into the order for 4 years, I think, and today it came to be! History was made--as the preacher, Br. Don Bisson, FMS (who knows what order that is?) said, "Back in his time, St. Benedict would have never imagined two woman priest founding an order based on his rule."

Big laugh line, I assure you.

There are also five people who have come to be part of Elizabeth and Shane's community who were received as 'Candidates for Covenant Companionship' in the Companions of Mary the Apostle. And one of them was a man! Shane and Elizabeth are trying to design committed Christian community for this new age. The two of them live together in a house owned by the brothers of Holy Cross and keep their vows there. But they want others to join their journey--by joining them in vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and living with them...or, joining them in 'spirit' keeping a rule of life and being part of a larger, more diverse gathering of Christians.

I had wondered what their 'habits' would be and was delightfully surprised. They both wore black pants and tops and put on bright red shawls after their professions. A great look. A woman bishop blessed their crosses and shawls. And in the Lord's prayer, we said, "Our Mother, our Father in heaven...."

Fierce feminist liturgy combined with welcoming men into their companionship. What could be better?

I know Shane and Elizabeth through work in the Mastery Foundation, which has been part of my life since--lost in linear time but depending on my friend, Ann's memory--1987. Shane and Elizabeth and I worked together recently (which month, don't ask me--linear time and all!) on a Making A Difference Workshop at Holy Cross. Many of the participants of that workshop were there today along with a few other Mastery folk.

It was impeccable--as worship at Holy Cross always is. A bit higher church than is my wont, but I enjoy it when I see it. Elizabeth and Shane prostrated themselves before the altar at some point. The only other time I saw someone prostrate themselves in front of the altar was when my friend Larry was being installed as Rector in a church in Maryland. I was sitting with is wife, Vickie and whispered to her when he did that, "is Larry OK?" She giggled through the rest of the service and Larry was not pleased.

I'm not sure what would provoke me to lay down in front of an altar--but it seemed natural and proper for Shane and Elizabeth. It was an humbling honor to see that--and their whole profession.

I wrote them a poem for their day. It is for them--but I don't think they'd mind me sharing it with you.


Not just an occupation,
though that is the usual definition.
Oh, no, more than that, much more.

Profession” as a verb, not a noun,
is wondrous indeed.
To avow, to declare, to promise--
profession” leads into all sorts
of nonsense and wonderment and joy.

To actually 'say so' about
what your lives will be and consist of
and contain.

To 'profess' opens up the possibility
of a future you speak into being.
A future that wouldn't have happened
otherwise, until you spoke it.

Few people in the world
make such a 'profession'--
speak a future and a life
into being like that.

And today you two do.

Astonishing, memorable, inspiring,
full of being and hope and wonderment.
Like that.
Thank you for going to the edge
of what you can know and see
and then stepping off.

And I know, as you step off into what
is not known, not knowable,
you will be caught by loving arms
or learn how to fly.

JGB 7/21/2015

I might suggest that each of us consider and ponder what it is we 'profess' to be in this world. That, I believe, would be a pondering of great value, to us and to the world we live in. Just me thnkin'....


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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.