Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Rising

Recent Thursday evenings I've finally been getting to The Rising!!! Bruce Springsteen's song, "The Rising" is the eponymous source of the community's name:
Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)...
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life (a dream of life)

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight


© Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)
...a dream of life, dream of life, my dream of my life...God's dream about my life?

life stuff buttonThe Rising is the alternative, or possibly simply an alternative assembly of what several times I heard referenced as The Big Church, "The Big Church" being a sizable, relatively affluent congregation of an historic mainline denomination that has become increasingly ethnically, socially and theologically diverse over the past couple decades. Almost every Thursday evening a smallish group first gathers in the wrought iron-gated courtyard for potluck and then moves into the adjacent chapel for scripture study, reflecting, singing songs and listening to songs, worship, holy communion and Open Space. During the years I've been back in Paradise I've gathered some of my own history with the sponsoring congregation, but won't detail any of my prior history there expect to mention I'd previously attended several worship and other events in that chapel, now reconfigured without front-facing wooden pews so we could sit on couches in a circle, enabling participants to experience more than a single expression of "open space." Literally forever it's been clear to me a more conventional, predictable style of church never would have attracted me at the beginning or during those in between times, but The Rising has a more organic feel and presents with a better integrated reality than the typical Sunday morning worship experience. But you know how much I love the Church's historic liturgy and I'm something of a lectionary geek and I'm still seeking to find a regular place of Sunday worship... however, my experience with The Rising has been really nice! "Really nice" may sound tame and unfocused, but I haven't felt threatened, I've felt welcomed, listened to and heard, and I feel The Rising is an excellent fit. I've long been searching for people willing to learn my name and willing to trust me with theirs!

Toward the start of worship the first time I was there we heard a song by one of my favorite, most thoughtful Christian groups, Faith Enough by Jars of Clay; another lyrics sample:
The storm is wild enough for sailing
The bridge is weak enough to cross
This body frail enough for fighting
I'm home enough to know I'm lost
Home enough to know I'm lost
It's just enough to be strong
Should the world rely on faith tonight
Should the world rely on faith tonight
The group has been writing its own statement of faith, and together we confessed our trust in the 2nd and 3rd Persons of the Triunity (1st Person still is in progress). We've been having some discussion of the just past and passed local and national political elections and for now have finished the book of Acts, which will wrap up next week before taking a Thursday off for Thanksgiving. I love the Acts 27 passage describing Paul, 35After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. 36Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves." As I mentioned to the group, from Paul we received the earliest account of Jesus' New Covenant declaration in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Together also, we prayed prayers and spoke words of the eucharistic liturgy, and at the end of the evening each of us individually got to hug each other and speak that evening's blessing.

Bruce Springsteen's The Rising possibly describes better than I'm able the lonely distances I've traveled, the overwhelming weight of raw grief and staggering loss, the tears, lack of tears, darkness and sadness I've been carrying along alone, the fear that's accompanied me near-countless years, the love and mercy and embrace I've dreamt of, the life I've hoped to recover. But then again, possibly I could describe my own experiences better in my own words, but I'm not ready to go all that public! I've told a few people "I crave an audience the way an addict craves cocaine," yet I don't quite dare unmask, publicly or more privately. I was convinced, I'm still convinced trying to free-lance everything was far better stewardship of my life than getting tied up in constraints and restraints of a pastoral position, current design trends, the ignorance and opinionatedness of music committees. I've been overrun with excuses, rationales and defenses, each containing at least a morsel of truth, but in the end, the painful truth remains that my phone never started ringing again, and most of my offers have been rebuffed, often met with horror.

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)—yes, but also a Tucson dark sky southwestern sunset...

Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)—indeed, but remembrances that help heal and shadows that protect.

I've been going down to the beach, or close to it, for The Rising Thursday nights and found friends. According to my view from here, most Thursdays I'll be going on up (down near the beach) to The Rising, dreaming of life while relying on faith all ways, always.

1 comment:

Sophia said...

Just catching up and so glad to see that you have a growing connection to a lifegiving faith community...Praying it will continue and that your Advent will be much graced.