My very good friend Hilary Sherratt and I took up a practice about a year ago to write each other each week. On Tuesdays I post a letter to Hilary here and she responds to it over at her space on Thursdays. We are our raw, honest selves here in front of you, as we would be in the messages we send back and forth in private. See Hilary's most recent letter that I'm responding to today here.
We are all the lost sheep. We are all the one running into the fence, into the wolf, hungry and afraid and trembling before the world. We are the one sheep that He chases after. Each one of us is loved so mysteriously and extravagantly that He comes looking for us and does not rest until He finds us and holds us and brings us home, rejoicing.
You wrote that last week. I turned it over on the path today as the branches hung low and Calvin and Barth and Schillebeeckx--he is new to me, I have only now met his words over coffee once--seemed to dance around my feet like songbirds hopping along in hope of seed. They had been discussing Communion, you see, and the steps I took, idle and a bit slower yesterday, were incorporated into this rhythm of dialogue. Here I found myself with Calvin and then here with Barth, here, over that patch of leaves, I tried to make some sort of sense of Schillebeeckx.
And then, samsara, the death and rebirth of ourselves, came to me beneath the treetops.
I was a child again, asking the child's question: How do we know we're right?
Foot gently kicked out, shooed the chirping Bart, Calvin, Schillebeeckx, because I was not quite ready to hear their songs. I turned over the child question about truth, about what it is we believe and why.
I am fascinated by people who think they're completely right about God.
Ask anyone, I'm a sure person. (Well, you already know that.) Assertive. Convicted. Passionate. I know what I believe and why.
But do I think I have a better knowing of Him than the chirping birds around my feet? Cautious Calvin and bombastic Barth? Schillebeeckx, whom I don't know well enough yet to comment on?
How do we know we're right?
It's not a question of needing certainty; it's a question of revelation. Why do I believe women can be priests but others do not when I believe, at the same time, that both of us are praying to the same God and hearing the same God? How is it possible that we can be Episcopalian and Methodist and Baptist and Lutheran and Roman Catholic and on and on and still be Christians? Christians-you'll-see-in-Paradise Christians?
How do we know we're right?
This is the child question I turned, the rambling wonder of revelation. How can all of us be talking to and hearing the same One? If we are so fragment, so stray, so entangled.
A wind took up on the path, and He surprised me in the whisper, in the way of samsara, the death of myself again, the reminder of new life, again.
I keep looking even unto the last one. But it's a wide, broad world.
"And I'm still finding Home." I finished. Added? Who's to say?
I think this has something to do with the way of grace.
I think this has something to do with the Shepherd who searches out the very last one.
I dropped seeds for Calvin, Barth, and Schillebeeckx, asked them to sing their songs while I practiced my own.
Once, perhaps twice, there was the most impossible sound of harmony.