The theme for this week’s readings is “Serenity”, a word forever slightly tainted for every Australian by the 1990s movie, “The Castle”. Whenever I read the word, Michael Caton’s character Darryl appears unbidden in my mind, looking out over his backyard next to Melbourne airport, murmuring “The serenity!”.
It’s a commonplace to fret about our busy lives, the chatter of Facebook and Twitter, the unbalance of work and life, busy business folk faxing from the beach, texting from the marriage bed. Take time away – advise the vacation ads, Find inner peace – spruiks the local meditation school, Develop a calm mind.
We’re a little obsessed with serenity, to be honest. Entire industries seem to trade in it and offer to sell back to us what modernity seems to have bought: peace, quiet, silence.
I had the great good fortune to attend a Centering Prayer retreat with Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault last week and she told a story of running a retreat above a school. She was leading a meditation session as school let out, fifty or so kids and parents talking, laughing and shouting just below the room where the retreatants were trying to surrender their thoughts and rest in the presence of the Divine Beloved. At some point, kids starting singing “Happy Birthday” to someone and the whole class took up the tune. The retreat room, possibly sensing this as the last straw started to collectively chuckle, it built up a little energy and, just as suddenly, died away as the participants surrendered even their laughter.
Darryl was on to something, I suspect, able to stare at a 747 taking off from the main runway at Tullamarine and still pronounce with no trace of irony, “the serenity”! Later in our retreat, Rev Bourgeault noted that she had seen Father Thomas Keating, one of the founders of the practice, take his meditation in a crowded airport several times.
This week’s readings appeal to an inner understanding of serenity. Rather than finding it in the outer places of solace: holidays, the couch, some fantasy locale embedded in peace and quiet; we look for a more real, more intimate and more authentic sense of serenity: within our hearts.
May the peace of God which passeth all understanding be with you this week and draw you into the arms of the Beloved and the serenity which is never truly departed.
The service this Sunday will be a “Sophianic Eucharist”. The service praises Sophia or Holy Wisdom as the immanent, feminine face of the Divine and celebrates the sacred marriage between the immanent and transcendent aspects of Spirit. The service features prayer and chant and the sharing of the Body and the Blood in the form of bread and wine.
Sophia Café – 7pm
Sophia Café follows the service – stay around for tea, snacks and conversation.