How many times I recall educated American (and European) friends protesting that while they might believe or feasibly be able to believe in God, they could never believe in a childish idea of a Bearded Sky Daddy(TM?). For some reason I’ve never found the traditionally imagery of God the Father to be revolting. Like this:
It’s the whole Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But my question is, what advantage or appeal comes from thinking that God is a vague force of nature with no personhood, no Incarnation, no relationship to you or me? So many of God’s best qualities are qualities that manifest in the relationship of persons: love, compassion, tenderness, mercy. Even the conversation of prayer!
One of the many strange things I’ve adapted to in Brazil is really long visits. I was so used to the all-business, in-a-hurry, let’s-not-overstay-our-welcome kind of visits I knew in the US that it’s taken me years to acclimate to the pace of visits here. This week’s spate of post-quarantine visits included:
Six hours with a dear friend: 3 hours of cheese, salami, olives and wine; followed by a one hour walk to digest and pray a rosary, then two more hours eating beef stew and talking.
Five hours with another dear friend a few days later: lots of conversation; coffee and cake; more chatting, taking photos, and hanging out; turning down the invitation to stay for dinner (tripe stew…I couldn’t do it).
Eight hours with another dear friend the day after that: several hours of conversation, several hours of eating, more talking, more eating, and a good long time spent looking at beautiful art books.
I was telling another friend about it later and she said the customs that she’s known are a) the ‘come for lunch, stay til dark’ visit and b) the ‘come spend the day while the husbands are at work’ visit.
I was marveling at the quality of time one gets with a friend when one spends all day, and not all day running around going places and being seen and so on, but just sitting at home talking. With that kind of uninterrupted attention to each other you really can delve into long stories and wandering musings. The friendship gets treasured and pampered and polished and cared for. It seems to me to put priorities straight. God gave me these friends to love and be loved by. Generosity and gratitude seem much better responses than fussing about whether I’ve checked off three more to-dos on my to-do list.
Then again, I’m a gringo, so today there were no more visits and I fretted over my to-do list. But I do think most everything on it, barring a few bills to pay, can be done tomorrow with no harm to anyone.
Tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of Carmel. This is very widely celebrated in Brazil, but not necessarily in other places. Our Lady of Carmel is one of those devotions I seem to have by accident, along with Saint Benedict. They just keep accumulating in my life without much planning on my part, so I take that as God’s work and go along with it.
I did go to Avila once. It was really neat to see the places and things associated with Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, though I always find it a bit painful when sacred objects are displayed as museum items. Spain is one of several countries I’ve been to where a lot of sacred places and objects have been confiscated by the state and turned into stuff for tourists. There’s plenty of prayer to be done in such places.
I had a large antique rosary that had belonged to a Belgian Carmelite. It was a connection to someone with a deeper life of prayer than mine, and I treasured it for a while, even though I was sure such a thing should properly have been buried with its original pray-er. The medals were worn from being touched. I must have given it away, as today I went looking for it to pray for the feast, but it was no where to be found. I’m guessing I gave it to a Carmelite friend.
A brief morning stroll took a surprising turn when we arrived at the shore just as a search and rescue team brought in the bodies of two boys who had slipped off the rocks near shore and drowned yesterday afternoon. I thought of the agony of their parents, who would soon be shown the rigid, cold bodies of their once lively sons. And I thought of the fear of the kids, struggling in the cold, turbulent water.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedicta fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.