Thursday, March 31, 2011

Donna VanderGriend

Another moment drops into my momentum bucket.  Time’s liquid is inching toward the three-score-and-ten mark.  Even as the pail fills, I am evaporating.  My significance pales; I am in diminishment mode. But I have not yet disappeared. So why not play?

First grade grandson Josiah asks again to play the Memory Game at the kitchen table.  Having far more intact and uncluttered memory bytes than I, he always wins.  My hand hovers hesitatingly over a card choice, hoping to find a match. 

“Look at your hands, Grandma…that’s gross!” he says.  I see what he sees.  It’s my veins, I conclude.  The backside of my hand looks like the topography of several small mountain ranges marked out by blob-trails of murky grey-green finger paint.

A Spirit-thought comes to me out of the hovering.  “But, Josiah…watch this.”  I put my elbow on the table and my hand in the air with the backside visible to him.  As my fingers fold into a relaxed looseness, the blood obeys gravity, slides down my arm, and leaves my hand smooth as the Great Plains.

“Wow!” exclaims my grandson.  “I want to do that.”  He drops an elbow on the table, situates his own hand at eye level, and stares.  Gravity is of no use on his already smooth, un-mottled skin.

“Do it again, Grandma,” he requests, sure he is missing part of the procedure.  He pays undivided attention to the blood-draining and tries again to repeat the miracle of veins at work.  Nothing.

Josiah looks at my aging hands resting in quiet victory next to the unturned game pieces on the table, the mountain map protrusions and wrinkled valleys obvious once again.  I watch his wide eyes display discovery:  his grandmother’s hands are no longer gross; they are full of ancient mystery.   I feel my evaporating self expand through the eyes of my grandchild.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Prayer of Oscar Romero

Today President Obama visited the final resting place of Oscar Romero. To understand how important this gesture was in the healing of old wounds in El Salvador, read this article.  When we prepare for our trips to El Salvador, we often read the Prayer of Oscar Romero.  In researching it today, I find that it was not actually written by Oscar Romero, but was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests.  As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer."   The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.”

“Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived. He had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression."

Here is the prayer, and I am proud that our President is willing to put aside the mistakes of the past and join with the people of El Salvador! 

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.