Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday reflections from Shekinah

Our kitchen at Shekinah

Some Sunday notes from Shekinah:

Shekinah had two groups of guests this weekend. Down in the Chalet was a Cub Scout troop; in the Timberlodge were 45 or so women from a Baptist church in Saskatoon, retreating for a short time from the busyness of their lives. Agnes and I were their hosts.

Note 1: Before we served them lunch, the women’s group held a worship service in the great hall of the Lodge. They were singing off a screen just as I walked through the room with an armload of mattress covers, a song I didn’t know honouring the majesty and glory of God. Just as they concluded, the snow on the roof let go and avalanched onto the deck with a thunderous roar. The ones nearest the window dived for cover before they realized that the sky was not falling, or that the Lord was not particularly adding audio-visual effects to their song. They were silent for a few seconds until the relief of knowing that they were safe set in, when they burst into spontaneous laughter.

Note 2: From the Timberlodge, I went down to the Chalet to check on the cub scouts. A dozen or so 10 year-olds were seated in a circle on the floor with their leaders; they obediently sang out “Good morning, George,” when I walked in. They wore brown shirts with yellow bandanas tied around their necks. I had some work to do in the furnace room, but I heard their leader say, “We ought to start our day with ‘O Canada,’ I guess,” but they didn’t sing it. I think they forgot to bring a song leader.

Note 3: In some of our (Shekinah’s) literature, you’ll find a note that says people experience the presence of God in this place. This morning, walking along the path that leads from the Timberlodge, past the silent cabins nestled among the poplars to the Chalet, I experienced what I think they meant. The squirrels have decided that winter is over and their footprints are everywhere; I startled a pair of chickadees and one of them flew past my ear so close that I could feel the breath of her wing-beats; the wind whispered through the treetops above and I remembered how the spirit is described as a wind in scriptures.

It’s clear that the Spirit of God hasn’t taken up residence at Shekinah; that would be antithetical to our faith. But it is also clear that many people who have felt themselves starved of the spirit in the busyness of their lives have felt the breath of the spirit here whereas they have been missing it walking day after day on concrete streets and tiled floors.

From here, you can’t see a single habitation (well, one, actually, since last fall, across the river), a single town, a single factory. Cell phones don’t work here; your laptop won’t connect you with the internet unless you’re in the office building.

Note 4: A minister dropped in a few weeks ago. In the course of our conversation he asked me this: Why do you call this place Shə-KEE-na? It’s actually pronounced Shə-KY-na. I know he was trying to impress me with his erudition, particularly as regards the Hebrew language, but to be kind I said. “That’s interesting! I call it Shə-KEE-na because everyone calls it that, and has since it was established!” (Incidentally, the Oxford entry in Babylon pronounces it Shə-KEE-na, and the meaning is: “the glory of the divine presence, represented as light or interpreted (in Kabbalism) as a divine feminine aspect.”)

Note 5: I’m listening—as I write this—to Tapestry on CBC 1. It’s an interview with the author of a biography of the current Dalai Lama. The author says that the Dalai Lama would say, “We don’t need religion; what we need is basic human kindness.” I didn’t get whether he actually said this or whether it’s a condensation of some things he has said.

Copyright 2009, gepp

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