Archives: Proper 16

The Path of Totality

I regret to inform you that from the backyard of St. Francis In-The-Fields Episcopal Church in Zionsville, Indiana, the eclipse was a total bust.

I didn’t do any real prep for it, to tell you the truth. I didn’t buy any glasses, or even make one of those homemade cereal box viewers.

My parents’ house in Missouri was in the perfect spot to see the complete eclipse, and they and my sisters and all their kids were gathering to have a party for it. I guess I was bummed that I wouldn’t be a part of it and was kind of cranky about the whole thing.

But that morning I did look up when the 93% bit that would be visible in Indianapolis would come through, 2:28 p.m., and I dutifully went outside at 2:24 p.m.

I was mostly hoping to view the effects on the environment around me, since I wasn’t prepared to be able to see the eclipse itself.

I thought it might get dark, even drop a few degrees in temperature. I carefully watched shadows to look for changes, and tried to see if I got the heebie-jeebies.

Well, it was a total zero.

There were clouds coming across the sky the whole time, and even when the clouds dissipated briefly, nothing seemed to change.

It was like a normal partly cloudy day all the way through 2:28 p.m. Then I heard my phone ringing and had to run back inside—my boss needed me to check something on my calendar.

The whole thing was significantly underwhelming, to say the least.

But I am 100% in the minority in having had that result.

Everyone else I heard from had dramatic and even life-changing experiences.

One person burst into tears as it happened.

Others were flooded with joy and awe at the miraculous workings of the cosmos.

Many people, including a couple of members of my family, found themselves deeply unsettled and even disturbed by the eclipse.

Some animal part of their brains felt threatened by the most constant and unchanging part of nature, the sun that makes all life possible on our planet, going dark. My mom said she even got lightheaded.

I was fascinated by these accounts, and paradoxically found myself far more interested in the eclipse after it happened than I was before or during. I was so intrigued by these disparate reactions.

And as many people have commented, there also was something healing and hopeful about the unity briefly displayed in a nation so deeply divided.

Even if we went back to shouting at each other a day later, for one brief, dark moment, we all looked at the sky together and held our breath.

There was this narrow path that stretched across the U.S. where the eclipse was total. The sun would be 100% covered by the moon and completely blocked out.

This band was called “The Path of Totality.”

And as I heard the experiences of the people who witnessed it, the joy and fear and awe that washed over them, I realized that “The Path of Totality” is in fact a fantastic image for the gospel life—which Jesus in fact described as a narrow path, just like in the eclipse. Continue reading

Things We Don’t Talk About: Jesus and Depression

Have you ever found a scripture that changed your life?

I did, and it’s not even Jesus who said it. It’s not from the gospels or Paul.

It’s actually our psalm today, Psalm 84.

Take a look back at it in your bulletin if you’d like—sometimes the psalm can kind of speed past us in the service and we don’t always absorb it—and I’ll tell you how Psalm 84 and I began our journey together.

I’ve dealt with clinical depression all of my adult life.

There were signs that it was emerging in high school and then it really crashed in on me catastrophically my freshman year in college.

The bottom dropped out of my mind and spirit quite abruptly.

Those of you who have dealt with this yourselves or walked this with family members know what it’s like to see the world in grayscale, as though your body has somehow biologically lost the ability to see color.

You know what it’s like to have to fight every single day to get out of bed, to struggle to fulfill the most basic responsibilities, to feel your world shrinking smaller and smaller around you.

You know what it’s like to feel suicide creeping closer and closer, tempting you with the idea of such blessed rest and peace, until the only things holding you back are the pain of your friends and family and frankly, the effort it would actually take to kill yourself.

Most people who have suicidal ideation have one specific temptation for how they would go about it.

For me it was driving my car into the supports of an overpass on the freeway.

At one point my junior year I had to give my car keys to my roommate because I didn’t trust myself not to do it.

I know I’m not the only one who’s been there. Continue reading

The Case Against Christian Unity

I really only have one simple thing that I want to say today. It’s an idea that’s been growing in me for some time now, and our text from Romans really spoke to me about it.

I’d like to present to you the case against Christian unity.

“Against Christian unity?” you might say. “But that’s one of the most basic Christian doctrines! Jesus prayed for us all to be one as he and the Father are one!”

That’s absolutely true. But Jesus didn’t specify how he wanted us to be one, and I think we may have gotten a wee bit off track there.

And I don’t so much want to get rid of the doctrine of Christian unity as to add to it. Continue reading