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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection
The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 7
… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
Peace on each one who comes in need;
Peace on each one who comes in joy.
Peace on each one who offers prayers;
Peace on each one who offers song.
Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,
Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.
by your grace alone
we are accepted and called to your service;
strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and empower our calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scripture Reading Mark 4:35-41
When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Poem: “To Be Held” by Linda Hogan
To be held
by the light
was what I wanted,
to be a tree drinking the rain,
no longer parched in this hot land.
To be roots in a tunnel growing
but also to be sheltering the inborn leaves
and the green slide of mineral
down the immense distances
into infinite comfort
and the land here, only clay,
still contains and consumes
the thirsty need
the way a tree always shelters the unborn life
waiting for the healing
after the storm
which has been our life.
The gospel passage invites us to contemplate the nature of Jesus and his relationship to his disciples. Their question, “who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” invites a ready answer grounded in Hebrew Scripture, where God has immediate and manifest power over nature, beginning with the moment of creation, continuing through the parting of the Red Sea, and evoked again and again in the psalms and prophets. “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters [and] makes the cedars crack.” (Psalm 29) The disciples, though they cannot yet articulate “the Messianic secret” that Jesus is Lord, are in awe of his power.
The poem, though it is grounded in the image of a tree rooted in the earth, rather than a boat on the sea, connects with the gospel at the beginning and the end. “To be held by the light” might be a way of speaking of our relationship with the divine, just as we might hope to have Jesus with us in the boat of our souls. And the cry of the disciples, “do you not care that we are perishing,” finds its ultimate resolution in the poem, where the writer is “waiting for the healing/ after the storm/ which has been our life.”
Questions for Reflection:
Which image speaks to you more powerfully of your soul, or your inner life? A boat? A tree? Or something else?
When you recall a storm in your own life, were you able to call Jesus to come to your aid?
If you spend some time with van Gogh’s drawing “A Fishing Boat on the Sea” (1888), how does it speak to you of the experience of being in a small open boat in a storm, or a calm sea?
We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today
We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer
We bring to God a troubled situation in our world
We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust
We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection
We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives
We name before God those who have died.
Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.
Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.
May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.
Poem and Meditation offered by Rev’d Elizabeth P. Randall, Rector