I’ll be on my way in an hour to the ordination at Garden City. Five men and women, each of whom I have worked with to a greater or lesser extent on their way toward ordained ministry, will kneel before the bishop today and begin that good work. Their personalities are different. Their backgrounds are quite diverse. I suspect that their understandings of what might lie ahead differ as well.
But all of them have met Jesus Christ and have been attracted at depth level to him, to his mission. In there they see something of what their life can mean, where their lives can find and transmit meaning. It has to do with service. It has to do with availability. It has to do with love.
That last is spectacularly important. It is the central means and mystery. Is there life at all without love? Is there such a thing as a real human life that is not touched and embraced and colored and enhanced and energized by love? Even those lives that seem the most bereft of that blessing, who seem most alone, find their origin – or if not even their original, at least their goal – in love.
What was his name, the young Philadelphia Jesuit who taught at the Gregorian when I was a student there. Phil was his first name. Ah yes! Phil Rosato I am reliably told! He was one of the young faculty then. I found out last year that he has died. How silently the years and our lives pass on from us. But Phil presented to us a marvelous vision, perhaps not devised by him, but passed on by him to us effectively, of the great circle of life. I suppose it later was set to music in the Lion King! We come from God. Our lives are at their best when they are a learning of our origin and a yearning to return to that beginning point and to arrive at last (thank you TS Elliot) where we had begun.
Just yesterday I was reading Frederick Buechner’s book on midlife that he wrote in his early 60’s. It opens with a beautiful reflection on what ‘home’ is, where in our memories our first home was, and how the greatest depth of home is at the last not found here at all. The ultimate home is in the presence of that One whom – receiving all our tradition and doctrine and attempts at elucidation – we cannot see or name or domesticate in our presence.
This morning these five at the cathedral will take a big step toward home. Both for themselves, and for all who will look to them in effect to say, “Can you point the way home?”
The best response of all to that deep human question is something like, “I cannot point it out as well as I would like, but I will walk there with you.”