Saturday, March 17, 2007

surdus et audier

Responding to a reporter in the wake of his null and void election Mark Lawrence called the Episcopal Church a "theater of the absurd." Most of us would agree.

Meanwhile, our bishops are now at Camp Allen to talk about listening to what the people of the church have to say about the Communique.

For Lent I've been reading Sabbath by Wayne Muller. Turning to page 84 in my reading this afternoon I was struck by these words:
Henri [Nouwen] insisted that the noise of our lives made us deaf, unable to hear when we are called, or from what direction. Henri said our lives have become absurd--because in the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means deaf.
Henri was fond of reminding me that the word obedient comes from the Latin word audire [or oboedīre], which means "to listen." Henri believed the spiritual life was a pilgrimage from absurdity to obedience--from deafness to listening.
The world seduces us with an artificial urgency that requires us to respond without listening to what is most deeply true. In Sabbath time, we cultivate a sense of eternity where we truly rest, and feel how all things can wait, and turn them gently in the hand until we feel their shape, and know the truth of them.
Actually, surd can either mean deaf or speechless/silence. And with the prefix ab, absurd means away from silence -- and into a meaningless cacophony, I suppose. Which is to say, you might as well be deaf!

All these listening processes we Episcopalians have engaged in in the years since Windsor don't seem to have gone anywhere. Does that mean we're talking but not listening? If we have been listening how could it be that we received different messages from different directions?

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