Today. Today, I want to take you by the hand. I want to guide you through the willow grove and down the cobbled path. When we reach the slanted fence, wooden beams showing old whispered rain shower stains, I'll show you where the ivy grows thin and the lily first flowered, where the door with the copper handle never quite shuts.
I'll push that never-shut door open, but let you walk through first. When you look back to ask if the wild fields can be trusted, I'll slowly make the sign of the cross between us and say, "Trust. There is no other way."
Or, perhaps, you won't see me make the sign, but you'll feel me reach forward to embrace, to whisper the same against your ear. Or, still, perhaps you only see me smile and the line is wordless but clear.
We'll make our way through the fields in song or silence, or perhaps in conversation. You'll mention the waning light and the sky that seems fixed indigo and I'll only nod slowly as if this were as ordinary as the way the wind seems to whisper in hymnody when it parts the tall grass around us.
The trees will sway overhead and you'll more than once stop to try and listen to what they are saying. I'll tell you they don't speak a language we yet know, but I have learned that if they are listened to long enough, something of their meaning can be felt within.
Perhaps you'll look up so long you won't look down again until we've reached the table in the center, in a clearing rounded by white candles. When we step into the circle, they will light, but they will burn without melting the wax. You'll not notice them long when you look to the table, when you can see all the people whom you've met in those lives remembered and forgotten.
Perhaps the one you hated shall be there, the one you loved as well.
Perhaps they shall not be your people, but mine.
Perhaps they shall be ours in common.
But the table will be full, for it is always full, and you'll be placed in the midst of the guests and given a plate---thous hast prepared a table before me---you'll be poured wine or, perhaps, water, or a nectar so sweet that you should wish to never drink anything else.
The person to your right has loved you more than you could ever understand; the person to your left you have sometimes hated, though you'll find it hard now to remember why.
Everyone here speaks in soft words, though some are in disagreement. The older woman with the drooping eyes is quoting the Prayer Book while the German man with the stern mouth recites The Institutes. The smaller woman between them, who holds a staff of wheat and with eyes that seem moons, says something very brief and all three of them laugh. They raise their glasses to one another, they toast God, ruler of them all, and when they start to disagree again, it sounds as a sort of fugue, fractured only by starting point, not by meaning.
You'll have your chance, too, to sort out your grievances.
It's why I've brought you along to this place behind the door that is never shut with the handle of copper.
You are here at this table to say all the things you need to say, until every loud word becomes soft and every angry solid thing melts into peaceful air.
A faithful page brings the books and songs and paintings you require so that you may cite your points. You are given leave to break, to eat, to speak to that one that loves you so beside you before you take up the argument again.
Perhaps we're arguing.
Perhaps it's you and the old woman or the German man.
Perhaps it's you and someone who has not yet come to the table, but you have the thing that needs saying and it's time to let you say it.
So you're encouraged, asked, met on your own terms.
And when you are at long last done, when it has all been said, when we are all around the table free to have changed our minds or to have disagreed or to have nodded at the old and true things---this is miracle of Holy Ghost, who's to say what shall come of it?---then it is nearly time to leave the table.
Though, not before the sacrifice.
Though, do you hear Eucharist? Memorial? Supper?
Do you see a bowl of bread and a cup of grape juice?
Do you see a silver dish of wafer and a chalice of wine?
Do you see a man holding them forth or a woman?
Or Christ Himself?
Do you see a chancel, a forest, a mission church with adobe walls?
Do you hear in remembrance or the Body of Christ or take, eat?
Do you see, for this brief moment, how that does not matter, how this is the whole Body of Christ, even in division?
When you look around, you shall see that we have all shared in the same Body and Blood, all around the same table.
We have gathered here in this wild place to say the things that have needed saying and, at the close, have blessed the Lord and received of His mysteries.
We shall leave the table under the proclamation of the peace of Christ, and I shall lead you back through the wild grown fields to the old door that is never quite shut with the copper handle.
I shall send you on, for now, and hold back awhile myself to tarry among the overgrowth.
You will be told that you are always welcome back.
You will be told that the table is always a place to be fed.
You will be told that this table was made, in part, for you.
Today, I want to take you by the hand.
I'll show you where the ivy grows thin and the lily first flowered, where the door with the copper handle never quite shuts.
The door with the copper handle never quite shuts.
The door to my heart.
Perhaps this is why I seem so surprised by the tone of some of our conversations concerning Faith.
Perhaps this is why I can be so upset when what people say is simply mean or uninformed or caricature.
Perhaps if it is naive to believe that the way forward in these conversations is around a table where we respect one another and then share in the communion of Christ, then I like being naive.
Because the door with the copper handle---where the lily first flowered---never quite shuts.