Last night I went with the Lovely Daughter and two of her friends to see the Harry Potter movie. I found it a bit tedious at first, but we were all mesmerized by the end. And then a bizarre experience on the way home unfolded as a young boy dashed frantically into the street right in front of the car ahead of us, followed by a furiously gesturing man who looked to be in his twenties, who was himself followed by a prancing little dog. Two other boys stopped themselves on the curb, and we all gasped in relief as we saw that neither boy nor man nor dog had not been run over. We called the police, and drove back after dropping off one of the girls to find four squad cars lined up at the corner.
The dog was the most bizarre element of the rather unnerving scene.
Between yesterday and today I've had maybe five seminary related conversations, with administrators and other students, on topics ranging from the practicalities of moving in to some of the more esoteric challenges ahead. Just as it took several weeks for the reality of leaving my teaching job and Jewish community to sink in, now the realization that I am beginning new work in a new community is washing over me with increasing momentum.
I called the Ontario Jesuit center today and made my final deposit on my eight-day retreat, which is only three weeks away. I've never done this before and, while I'm really looking forward to it, I'm also having trouble imagining a large community of people spending a week in almost complete silence together. I suppose that by the time it's over, I will be struggling to imagine people spending most of their time in conversation with one another!
I find that I am increasingly perturbed by the Pope's remarks earlier in the week about the Protestant churches. They have been well analyzed elsewhere; all I really have to note is my personal distress. I know that he hasn't said anything new, and I knew that most of my own Catholic friends are probably more unhappy about the situation than I am. Of course, we have all had our own contribution to make. When I have taught the Reformation to my Jewish high school world history students for the past several years, I have presented it as follows: a day on the social, economic, and religious climate in which frustration with the church fermented; a day on Luther, Calvin, and Henry VIII; a day on Luther's anti-Semitism, distasteful and horrific as the topic is, but to me seemingly mandatory in the interest of full disclosure and honesty toward Jewish students; and the usual final day wrap-up of ask-whatever-you-want-about-Christianity.
It's been a long 500 years.
The photographs are of the ruins of the Iona Nunnery. I took them exactly one year ago this week, and I think most of them enlarge pretty well with a click or two. Before I went to Iona, a good friend of mine, a nun in her seventies who has spent most of her life in that rural convent I described a few entries earlier, told me how powerfully the Nunnery had resonated with her on her two visits there. "I imagined those women," she said, "working there, out on that isolated island, eight hundred years ago, and thought: they were trying to do exactly what I try to do!" The Nunnery is in ruins thanks to the Presbyterian Reformers of the sixteenth century. Enough of it remains that it is easy to imagine those women at work, at prayer, at dinner, stopping to stare out the window toward the sea -- and painful to imagine the disruption of their lives by those who thought they had a clearer vision of the will of God.
And so today my own life feels unsettled ~ by the man chasing the little boy into the dark and busy street, by the prancing dog who followed them, by the unknown future, by the persistent voices claiming power and supremacy of vision.
I do need that retreat.