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2.08.2006

A Fun New Gig

Someone recently gave me this quote:
"You concern yourself with the depth of your ministry and God will take care of the breadth." I have found this to be true.
(Does anybody know who said it originally?)

I have a new gig that came to me serendipitously this week. I am now a weekly columnist for the United Press International's religion and spirituality forum. I am narrowcasting as a Quaker voice. (Some of you may know Friend Margaret Benefiel - she is also writing for them, but on issues of business and faith.) The UPI editor Larry, says that the feed is read by one to three MILLION people a month - that is broad. I am a Tuesday columnist and if you are eager you can see my column each week here. Or I will post it on
Silly Poor Gospel on Wednesdays.
The Column is call So There I was.

This week's effort:

Sanctification's matrix found at Safeway
February 6, 2006

I've got this thing about saving old words. Dusting them off, shining them up, flashing them about; especially words that describe the fluctuations of the soul. Faith is a weird world, and it needs good words. One of my favorite words is "sanctification" - the process of becoming a saint. Everybody knows at least one saint - Michael, the tough guy; Anthony for when you can't find your car keys. Did you know that the Vatican is looking for a patron saint of the Internet? Not a moment too soon there, boys! Most faiths have saints in some form, and most faiths believe that we can all be on the path to sainthood. There seems to be a very common notion that something about this life is supposed to polish us like stones in a rock tumbler - that we are supposed to come through all the trash and abuse better, and cooler, and knowing a thing or two.

I work on my sanctification at my local Safeway grocery store, usually about four in the afternoon. They've got everything you need to perfect a deep spiritual path. Temptation, thy name is Ken, plying me with free chocolate samples. Wisdom works in the back with Sue in the pharmacy - I have seen her do compassionate alchemy for the uninsured. I've discovered that true love does wait - for tomatoes and strawberries in their real season, as I pass by the winter fakes. I practice discernment as I leave the Starbuck's alone and find the fair trade coffee. I watch Flo gracefully slow down her line for the intellectually or reality-challenged folk. I see the kindness that Angela has for the elderly. I practice patience as I watch the staff practice grace. Anyone who is moving so fast that they are irritated by human kindness needs to slow down, and that includes me. I have learned to meditate while reading the Weekly World News.

Late night Safeway is another world yet. The homeless teenagers come in when they mark down the deli Chinese - counting their quarters, trying to decide whether to have the sweet and sour or the fried rice, 'cause it looks like they can't get both. I delight in one small problem I can fix - all the Chinese and a quart of milk each, kids - Momma says. I met a schizophrenic prophetess in there one night - she told me I looked to her like Judith of old, and sent me scurrying for a copy of the Apocrypha. There's life at Safeway, and sometimes death - too many people have stepped in front of a train at the crossing in front of that store. I've seen the checkers hold their breath when the whistle sounds frantically wrong - prayers ascending.

Yeah, they've got everything you need over at Safeway, body and soul. That is, if you slow down, and open your eyes, and let your community, and its Creator, shape you and make you better. Saints; every one of you.
Comments:
Glad that you have this opportunity. Thanks for the headsup from UPI and their feed. Looks great.

And thanks for publishing your essay here. It's good to be reminded how "close" or "at hand" this thing called "santification" actually is!
 
Wow, we'll be able to boast that we knew you back when you were just on blogspot! Congratulation on the gig, may it turn many hearts to the Teacher.
 
Thanks guys

I am sitting with this opportunity. I have a clearness committee called for this weekend to talk with me about balancing my call at FFC, the wider Q world, and the other possibilities in my life. I see this column as a very gentle, but real chance to speak to the interface of Quakerism and the 21st century. I am going to slide into it slowly, but I will speak more, and more often about my Q view in the near future.
 
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