Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Transfiguration 2010

So I was up on a mountain -- in Tennessee at Sewanee where I am facilitating a training event. Last night was a most stellar sunset, and I was out by the cross that marks the edge of the University domain by the escarpment of the Cumberland plateau. Tranquil and stunning in the still evening air, I had a lovely moment with G-d and creation. This morning there was an inch of snow on the ground and it was as if I were in a totally different world. One thing about snow in Tennessee -- it makes everybody smile.

I went to church at All Saints, the University chapel. The choir was gorgeous (even if they did sing Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine in English), the setting grand and spacious, the hymns and service music singable, and a decent liturgical presence from the presiding celebrant. The sermon, however, sucked.

I preach pretty regularly.
Some weeks are good, some not so good. But I would never appropriate a litany of stories from a group I lead and offer them as public grist without ever naming my own story. I was offended at so many levels -- it was impersonal; to my mind it violated any confidentiality of the group; it was, frankly, insipid and lacking depth. In speaking about the Celtic concept of "thin places" it made me think that the preacher had never himself had a "thin place" experience.

Let me offer this in response: there is, in some eastern traditions, that which is known as Samadhi. It means a non-dualistic moment in the mind. It is that state of consciousness where the temporal and eternal meet at once; where there is light and no darkness; where there is love and no hate; where there is oneness with everything. It is a first stage on the path of enlightenment.

In my small way, I had the Samadhi experience out by the cross last night. Looking at the pictures I took, the beauty is present but not the depth; the image is present, but not the awe; the place is represented, but only in depiction. It required me to be there at that time and place and to have that experience in order for it to be real, even if only for me.

And that is a thin place. And there is still snow on the ground. In Tennessee.

Today's weigh-in: 240 lbs. Don't ask, don't tell.