Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Gardens, Gloom and Form-ation..Lenten Pin a Day
A theology professor from Germany once looked at our class with humorous incredulity and said aloud, 'I never know what Americans are talking about when they say gestalt.' Wikipedia suggests that in our usage gestalt refers to holism. Usually I find that in theology circles it is referring to essence..what it is that fills a specific malleable form. The word FORM is put before us in this Lenten season as a reminder to consider the frail shape of Jesus dying on the cross. What does that form say about our union with God? How are we instead conformed to the evil forces of society? What should we fill our form with to be fully formed in Christ?
Recently I was involved in a discussion about confusion regarding the shift into the widespread use of the word 'formation' in the church. We are about life long formation in Christ, and I have a deep commitment to not only the vocabulary, but the practice of being about forming lives not filling folks with information. The use of the word is intended to be a positive gestalt, to give a better shape to what we are tasked with as pastoral leaders. However it is the holistic nature, the seeming unbounded-ness of the phrase that is confusing for some parishioners. It is such an amorphous shape; and we are the kind of people who like bound books and sacraments for meaning..we like limits we can grasp. Furthermore, it may sound like spin..one more rephrasing to keep us from knowing what is really going on. Which makes me wonder what can we do to help folks be formed as pro-formation people of God?
When Jesus goes to the garden to pray it is the last breath of peacefulness before the wretched tragedy of the passion proceeds. I like the idea of gardens and gardeners and gardening but I have neither the gift nor the patience to make a earth and flora garden come to life. A friend says that our congregations greatest resource is property. We have acres and acres of land for growing food. Some have already joined in this growing segment of church gardeners but far more could. In my current site I keep dreaming of transforming the green moat of grass between our doors and the sidewalk. I keep dreaming of a playful garden path where vegetables grow and friends and neighbors can play or stroll. Think of it as re-gardening our assets.
This late Lent makes gloom a bit harder. Like the Holy week where I was bouncing off the walls about my new position, when spring is bursting forth all over the place it seems more like Easter already. The timing next year is better, perfect in my mind with Easter falling on the first Sunday in April (PLAY BALL)! However this year it is almost as late as can be. It has been lovely here lately, wet and warm with flowers busting through. Yet I know that others have terrible weather. There are hundreds of people whose loved ones have disappeared in a mystery. A terrible copter crash today in Seattle. Maybe Lent is a blessing because it reminds us that joy and gloom are intermingled.
For more pins in the Lenten Pin A Day, my pins a day board is to be found here.