We caught up with the storm right around Kingston. "We" were a Via Rail passenger train on the Toronto-Ottawa run. The storm had been pushing its way east before us, leaving roads shining with wet and the lush summer fields glistening. I'd watched it out my window: a properly thunderous-looking cloud mass with the dark blur of rain beneath it. It was to the north and far enough away that I wasn't sure we'd catch up with it. But we did, coming under the darkness, rain streaking the glass beside me.
It's funny, but I'd wanted us to catch the storm. It seemed to fit with the way the last week went. I'd been at General Synod, the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, which is now in Interesting Times. We'd been clobbered, the last morning of Synod, by a nasty editorial in the _National Post_, which blamed us for our own troubles. If, the editorial claimed, we hadn't backed Canada's Aboriginal peoples in their land claims, we wouldn't be in this mess. We'd brought our troubles on ourselves. And more of the same, in a fleering "no nonsense" tone.
Looked at from the newspaper's point of view, Christ set himself up like a booby for the Jewish authorities. If he'd had the least common sense, he could have avoided that whole Crucifixion scene, saved his mother all that grief, kept Pilate from being put in such an uncomfortable position. Well, of course he was crucified. He'd practically begged for it. He'd alienated those in positions of power, the people who really *matter*. Instead of networking with people who could do him some good, he'd hung around with losers. I mean, what did the guy expect? And then all those martyrs--what a bunch of neurotics! They could have saved themselves. What a stupid waste.
It doesn't occur to people with this mentality that just maybe, sometimes the business of the Church is chasing storms. This storm exists because in the past, people in our church failed in love, respect and consideration for Aboriginal children. It may have been an understandable failure in some respects, but it was still a failure. Now we've repented of our wrong-doing and are doing what lies in our power to try to set our relationships to right again. It's called restorative justice. And it's working.
But this way of operation is willing to risk leaving one's tushie imperfectly covered, something that Post-type people can't understand at all. They call it squandering our resources; we call it seeking justice. They see us walking Cross-ward, and because they are essentially clueless about how we think, they cannot believe that we're singing.
What they've forgotten is a fact that the Primate reminded us of at Synod: the Church has been here a very long time, and it will outlast not only the _National Post_ but the government itself. It's outlasted all sorts of governments already. And this church will last because it knows that it isn't institutions or even real estate, but people. As long as the people want it, the church will continue. It may be in for stormy days; it may even go through a form of death. But it will re-emerge on the other side, still singing.
Chasing storms is in our job description. Chasing love, chasing justice, chasing freedom--these all take us into stormy weather sometimes. But we're not to hold back from justice because it might cost us something--or everything, for that matter. We're not to try to keep our tushies covered because they rest secure in the palm of God's hand. As for the buildings and institutions --we can live without them, if that's required of us. We can always borrow another church's basement, after all.
This isn't whistling in the dark, either. One of the great joys of faith is that we know we're survivors. Nobody wants the Anglican Church of Canada to go belly-up, but we all know that it can't be stopped from rising again. We have, after all, an extremely good example of that sitting right before us every Sunday, and we wear that truth strung around our necks, in gold or silver or wood or fine beadwork.
The storm looks very dark right now, and we're not sure how bad it's going to be in the next year or so. Crucifixion is extremely unpleasant, and nobody's looking forward to it. But we didn't tumble into this mess through our own stupidity: we deliberately chose to risk this mess as an act of love and reconciliation. And we will trust God to get us through it.
The storm kept us company all the way to Brockville, although it wasn't raining when I hauled my luggage off the train and found my car waiting where I'd left it a week ago. The storm spat rain as I headed north. But close to home, the clouds broke into huge piled masses with blue among them, and the early evening sideways sunlight lit them into glory. I found myself happily belting out something I often sing in the car:
Who so beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound:
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He'll with a giant fight,
But he will have the right
To be a pilgrim.