I had the good fortune to go to Milwaukee last Friday for a brief visit with two very important people in my life. A thoroughly enjoyable 24 hours in the great state of Wisconsin was capped off by a chortle-inducing sign as I made my way through security at the airport.
I don’t know about you, but I’m discombobulated on a regular basis, and the opportunity to pull myself back together after shedding various parts of my attire for airport securitywas very welcome. In fact, I bet we might all welcome the chance to recombobulate ourselves now and then. Maybe you already have such a place. Yoga class. Hiking. A cup of tea and a book. Could church be one of those places – maybe the best place – to recombobulate? It’s a place, after all, that asks you to temporarily step away from your normal life where discombobulation is perhaps not an unusual state of being. Church is a place to sing together, confront difficult issues from moral and theological perspectives, experience the beauty of God through all five senses, a place where you are accepted and loved as you are, and given some tools to help you become better than you are.
This past Sunday I had invited someone to church whose deep faith was formed in a strong and much more freewheeling evangelical tradition. During the service I wondered what she thought of the thee’s and thou’s of the Rite 1 language. Did it seem stuffy and off-putting to her? And then I had a conversation in my head that I’ve had often enough in reality.
“Why do you say “thee” and “thou” still?” she might ask.
“Because there is a power in being connected by language and thought to past generations of Episcopalians, and because we aren’t afraid to create an experience that takes us away from day to day life and helps us glimpse a more orderly world where ideas and emotions are beautifully and carefully expressed.” I might answer.
“But where’s the joy and exuberance that unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit in us?” she would then wonder.
And I could reply, “Well, it is Lent…and expressions of joy and exuberance become muted, so that we can really feel their full effects on Easter. For Episcopalians, it’s almost always about balance.”
Personally, I find church in general, and Lent in particular, to be times of recombobulation. Times to step away from “normal” and reconnect with those deep currents of thought and emotion that keep me recombobulated. Thank you Milwaukee for giving me just the right word.