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Wait for it, wait for it

by davesandel on August 8th, 2020

Saturday, August 8, 2020       Memorial of Saint Dominic              (today’s lectionary)

Wait for it, wait for it

Some of my best friends are Dominicans, most of them nuns, many of them amply able to fulfill their order’s defined calling: to preach. My first spiritual director, Sister Melanie at Jubilee Farm in Springfield, read widely and spoke of what she read. Her bookshelf, behind her as she sat in her rocking chair, fascinated me. I asked about authors and what they thought, and her words clarified my thinking. We talked about books all the time.

Our grandson Jack sometimes came with me to these meetings. He was three, maybe four. Jack sat outside our meeting room beside a table filled with books just for him. I think Sister Melanie prepared that table for Jack before we arrived, although she never said so. The Dominicans were teaching both of us.

After we talked, Jack and I walked in the meadow or went into the barn, where the sisters at Jubilee Farm kept llamas and chickens. Sr. Anita, also the resident sculptor, taught us how to approach the llamas and pet them. Jack shied away, stared back at the very large animal, and finally took a chance. The llama was patient with him, and Jack, I think, felt proud.

In the Bible the year of Jubilee is the ultimate sabbath. Land was kept fallow, debts of all kinds were forgiven, and property returned to the original owners. As you might guess, these ordinances of the Lord were poorly kept, when they were kept at all. The sisters’ built a farm on the principles of Jubilee and have sustained it and its ministries for decades.

Are you not from eternity, O Lord,

My holy God, immortal?

As we recognize but seem powerless to change, our culture eats us alive and spits us out. We have trouble nowadays with the simplest rhythms of honor, gratitude and grace.

Why do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked man

Devours one more just than himself.

There is nothing futile about the stand these Dominican women make. They believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart,

And keep watch.

The vision still has its time,

Presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint,

If it delays, wait for it

It will surely come, it will not be late.

Saint Dominic’s life brimmed with adventure and compassion. He worked all his life to  protect the Church. He allied with Saint Francis, and together they shared the lives of common people who were poor but ready to learn the love of Jesus. They practiced what they preached. They listened to Jesus.

He has not forgotten the cry of the poor.

Stories abound of Dominic’s determined preaching of Jesus’ Gospel. Like Jesus and Francis, Dominic was “itinerant,” with nowhere to lay his head. He rarely made plans beyond the next few hours. But as you might expect, he was known well in the countryside, and rarely did anyone turn him away.

Would he have released the resident demon in the lunatic son?

I brought him to your disciples but they could not cure him.

Then Jesus spoke to the boy, and the demon came out of him.

“Why could we not drive it out?” the disciples asked.

“Because of your little faith.”

Dominic’s faith stood him in good stead. Perhaps indeed, he might like Jesus have driven out the demon. He seemed to arrange his life so that nothing but faith would keep him alive. His mustard seed grew into a great tree.

“Nothing will be impossible for you,” Jesus told his friends.

All his life Dominic yearned for the quiet life of a contemplative. He discovered it as an integral part of his full human life. Study and prayer merged seamlessly with preaching and helping others. This became his everyday life with God. His biographers speak of how he “passed on the fruits of contemplation.”

Richard Rohr calls his Albuquerque retreat center a Center for Action and Contemplation. This preacher Dominic would love that name, who strove in his decades of living among the people of southern France “to speak only of God or with God,” consequently showing them how to live.

(Habbakuk 1 and 2, Psalm 9, 2nd Timothy 1, Matthew 17)

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2 Comments
  1. Susan Jakoby permalink

    I love the connection of Jubilee, Jubilee Farms, “the stand these women make,” and these scriptures. There’s something I can’t articulate about how inspired this combination of thoughts is – yours and the ancient ones in the Bible. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. Thanks.

  2. davesandel permalink

    Thanks for the encouragement, Susan. Sometimes the interplay of thoughts and scripture seems contrived, but usually it seems helpful, at least to me. I’m glad it is for you too.

    I think the Jewish scholars call(ed) it Mishnah. Not mish-mash 🙂 So I guess that’s what I’m wanting to do too, from my own spiritual space in these days of our own lives.

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