I think I can justifiably claim to have had the flu - not a part of my body went unaffected, and now that I am FINALLY better I see with horror how I have been dragging around in a state of semi-conscious fog for the past two weeks. I am astonished to have come through midterms in good shape; I barely remember being alive. I guess that, as the Bard says, all's well that ends well. I give the hacking cough two more weeks, but that's it.
I was intrigued by the variety of responses to my last post. And so I have some of my own:
I don't particularly think that God tests us. I don't really have a theology about that. I would use language such as "God invites us" and "God cares for us." And I would certainly have to acknowledge that God invites us to some hard, hard places, and cares for us there. But testing? Maybe yes, maybe just a problem some of us (me included) have with that particular language. Or maybe not. At any rate, it's not a concept critical to the appeal of the kite sermon as far as I'm concerned.
Neither is the issue of other people. That was the least relevant part of the sermon to me; in fact, I'm not sure I even noticed it the first time. Most of my family and most of my closest friends have little or no connection to a public religious life, and I don't go around comparing our lives in terms of faith and material abundance.
As far as finding support and encouragement in disparate places -- well, yes. In many ways, seminary feels one-dimensional to me. I am finding wonderfully interesting and committed and passionate people here, and I am beginning to articulate anew my reason for being here, but I miss my diverse and pluralistic world at home. I miss it a lot. More on that later.
This is the part of the kite sermon I liked:
"The second and third attempts, while they bore a striking resemblance to a kite, never left the ground. However, with each attempt, I learned more and gained more patience. I found that by looking at, and studying other kites, I discovered my mistakes and corrected them.
After many more attempts and failures, I finally had a kite that left the ground. However, I discovered that after it was airborne, a strong wind would cause it to nosedive and it was back on the ground. By looking at other flying kites, I realized the need for weight and added a tail, short in a light wind, and long in a heavy, strong wind, I had finally gained my kite.
As an experiment one day, I added as much string to the kite as I could find. While the kite flew so high and far, that it was almost lost from my sight, I always knew it was there. The curve of the string told me it was up there, and the stronger and harder the wind blew, the harder the kite pulled on my hand and the higher it went.
Faith is much like that kite. We must work and study to gain a strong faith. There will be many failures and setbacks. We will get up, dust ourselves off and try again."
As I have written before, faith has been a long and twisting journey for me. It has seldom been an experience or locus of comfort. Karl Rahner apparently says somewhere that there are those of us with a summery faith and those of us with a wintery faith.
A wild and colorful kite in winter is a good metaphor in my life. That's all.