rector deflector

Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. — Peter

Where is my super-suit??? – Frozone

When I left my last church to become the (trumpets please) Rector of St. Andrew’s, my colleagues there gave me a magical gift. It was a plastic suit (read: trash bag with armholes) with the word “Rector Deflector” emblazoned across the front. The suit was designed to protect me from the sundry messiness and unpleasantries that would come my way in the course of my new gig.  Some of these would inevitably of my own making, and others would not. I don’t think I’m giving away any trade secrets by sharing this with you.

It was an imaginary outer casing, designed to preserve and protect its inhabitant (me).  Not entirely unlike the little mountain houses Peter thought to build for Jesus and the prophets in the fading light of the transfiguration. In the face of something messy and unexplainable, Peter tried to tame the wildness of it all by creating enclosures, but that seemed to miss the point.

Spirituality is the art of transfiguration, wrote John O’Donohue in Anam Cara. If we desire and are willing to go deeper in the life of the spirit, we must be attentive to the daily collision with things sacred, painful, unjust and joyful.  It does no good to hide from these things, or to try to tame them.

Do we see our faith as something which keeps us attentive to all this? Or is it a shield of safety and certainty, keeping us seemingly whole yet untouched by the the world around us? If our souls were static things, then faith would work perfectly well as a shield, supersuit, or rector deflector. But our souls are not static, and our faith is meant to be dynamic and ever-deepening.

The art of transfiguration and the means of self-preservation do not always get along with one another. The supersuit is a nice thing to have, but oftentimes just gets in the way.


About bernardowens

I'm an Episcopal priest in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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