Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From Sand to Soup

Baptismal Font at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Lent 2012
This year for Lent our focus is on "Water for a thirsty world." We have transformed some visible places in the Cathedral as mini-deserts; most notably the baptismal font which is filled with rough rocks and weed stalks and dry grasses. Practically, we are collecting donations for the drilling of a well in another part of the world through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. The congregation has been encouraged during the highly creative "Minute for Mission" to make contributions for each glass of water consumed, each bath/shower enjoyed, each flush of the toilet, etc. After just 2 weeks we have reach nearly 20% of our goal.

We are also focused on the ways we thirst in this Lenten desert: fame, fortune, relationships, accumulations of all sorts. We have been encouraged to get in touch with what we desire and long for, the places of emptiness, doubt and disappointment. As the choir begins its silent procession, we hear the words of the Psalmist, "As the deer panteth for the waters, so my soul longeth after thee." (Psalm 42) and the words of St. Augustine, “You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness. You sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath and I pant for you. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me and now I burn for longing for your peace.”

In the remaining weeks of Lent we will consider how the mini-deserts will be transformed by the waters of the Triduum and Paschal Feast: waters used for foot washing, the tears of the penitent, the water that flows with blood from the Savior's side, the waters of creation/flood/Red Sea/whale's belly/free-for-all-waters and the waters of the baptism. How will our dry souls and spirits be revived as we come to the oasis of Easter for the new life we are called to live?

A shelf of seasonings at Catacurian Cooking School, El Maroij, Spain
Last week I came across another quote that is perfect for a “foodie” of sorts and a devotee of good liturgy. “Liturgy is to life as consomm√© is to broth.” The pure, rich, dark and multi-layered taste of broth or stock that has been reduced, then purified with the addition of frothy egg whites which draw the bits of meat, herbs, vegetables like a magnet; then strained through towel or cheese cloth; then finished with a touch of Madeira or sherry. Our liturgy is like that: a pure, intense, multi-layered taste (complete with Port) of the sacred, the holiness of God who deigns to touch us, be with us and among us as one of us. For an hour or so we marinate in this "God-soup" so that we can go forth to bring the flavor of God to every task, every meal, every relationship. Together we discern where God is calling us to add the special intense flavor of faith, justice, love, mercy, hope.

Perhaps that is exactly the nourishing, thirst-quenching thing that is needed for everyone everywhere to move on together through the desert of Lent and life.

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