Sometimes I think that I am a Benedictine, seeking the Order that would give my life an established contemplative rhythm: work and prayer, work and prayer, work that is prayer.
Sometimes I think I am Ignatian, looking to follow the Rule, the map to the journey inward: this step, then this one, then this–deeper, deeper, deeper.
Sometimes I think I am Franciscan, seeking the Holy One in the mundane, in the wild places, in the faces of people around me, in the incarnate world.
Or–how would I even say this one?–Julianist? Seeking ecstasy and union with the One.
Hildegardian–Searching for the correspondences between the eternal and the temporal, to see the macro within the micro.
Brigidan–Tending, nurturing, observing, experiencing pure devotion. Perhaps this one could also be called Oliverian (I am a follower of the way of Mary Oliver, of paying attention).
My own tradition has no saints, so I wander into the realm of the Catholics and others to borrow theirs. The more I study, the more it seems to me that some of the least dogmatically churchy people are some of the people the church holds up most lovingly for veneration. Even many of my own Anabaptist forbears were rebels and refuseniks, iconoclasts and outsiders. It helps me to remember this, that my own sense of being on the edge, of standing in the open field outside the structure of the church, of lurking on the fringes, is part of a long tradition. It’s what Father Richard Rohr calls the place of spiritual freedom: “a life on the edge of the inside–not at the center or at the top, but not outside throwing rocks, either.”
Some of those we venerate were stone-throwers themselves. I’ve seen the modern iconoclasts and rebels picking up stones, have joined in that myself, actually. And if I am honest, my fingers still occasionally twitch with the desire to join the battlers again. Sometimes even the people who speak most passionately and articulately for the way of peace and justice in the world are all the while wreaking violence and destruction in the spiritual field. I will put down my stones, and I will continue to stand out here on the field of the fringe, my feet in the world of both/and.
Perhaps, in the end, I am all of the above, and a Mennonite, too, following the path of Menno Simons toward Quietness, toward Yieldedness, toward Community, not blind submission to the established order, but a resting in the peace of being on this wide and open field, experiencing and sharing grace, absorbing the lessons of so many who have been here before.
1. The field is so wide, so eternally expansive
2. Articulators, people who envision the pathways–saints and poets and musicians and artists and children and you
3. Purring–why is a cat’s purr so calming to humans?
4. Someone else woke up early in this house so he could make paper hearts to hang all around to celebrate Valentine’s Day
May we walk in Beauty!