Thea, you accompanied Jesus as he wandered in the wilderness for forty days and nights, readying himself for his ministry. Accompany me as I wander through the desert, discovering the lonely vocation of an artist; lead me to your refreshment. Amen.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that four (rather than three) is my Enneagram type. Since that revelation, I've allowed myself to focus on my creative work for at least an hour or two every day, and it has made a tremendous difference in my disposition. Instead of focusing my attention on tasks that primarily benefit others, I'm drawing out what's inside myself for its own sake, and it's breathtaking. It's art. It's me.
I've decided to resurrect my Master's thesis. I was having trouble with it because my approach to it was so academic and sharp. I realized that the way to salvage it was to transform it into a pastoral resource. I told some friends that some of my favorite liturgical writing resembles excellent preaching, and the trouble with my thesis is that it resembles very poor preaching. If I transform it into good preaching, it will be a good book. A publishable book. A useful book. A beautiful book. I've discovered that my writing is my art and my ministry to the world.
Now that I'm focusing inward instead of outward, I feel totally alive. And I love feeling alive again.
Thea is working hard on my heart. I'm grateful for the fruits that have come out of these last difficult months.
I don't know how Cyril, the late-4th century bishop of Jerusalem, did it. After all the liturgical hoopla he went through in each Holy Week and Easter, he spent each Easter Week guiding neophytes of faith through mystagogy, the breaking open of the mysteries they had just experienced. I'm no bishop. I'm not guiding anyone through the meaning of their confirmation/baptism/communion. All I did for Holy Week and Easter was sing, and I'm totally zonked. Perhaps Bishop Cyril was able to move energetically from Easter action into Easter mystagogy because he was an artist, the kind of artist who's so passionate that he'll forsake all else for the beauty and importance of his work (work, in his case, which was done for God's sake). Perhaps Cyril believed, like I do, that liturgy (and the belief to which it gives rise) matters. Maybe, since he was the head of the church--in the city where Jesus died and rose--he felt that his responsibility was just a little bit weightier than that of others whom God had ordained to serve. And maybe his desire to bring about illumination of hearts was his manna in a wilderness of leadership. As I went through Holy Wednesday's shadows, Holy Thursday's footwashing, Good Friday's darkness, Holy Saturday's silence, and then the Vigil that beckoned forth the new light of Easter, I was struck over and over by how different Holy Week and Easter felt at St. Augustine's than it had for me elsewhere. I don't perceive the difference in terms of "better" or "worse." I perceive the difference in the degree of leadership I was granted, and in the way my leadership helped shape the prayer of others. In small ways--as a musician--I spent this Holy Week and Easter living into Bishop Cyril's holy presence as a liturgical leader. I find myself in awe (and maybe the more appropriate word here is "fear") of my God-given ability to make a difference to others, for better or worse. As I continue to be called forth to lead, how will I maintain my zeal like Bishop Cyril did? How will I engage in self-care without losing sight of the care of others?