The sky could have been painted blue and the trees splashed gold this morning as we gathered for our conference with Bishop Joe. Sparrows, cardinals and jays fluttered about Sister Anne’s birdfeeder, just beyond the podium, beneath the river birch off the patio. Bits of cotton drifted by, stray tufts of dandelion, perhaps, or cottonwood seeds. It was a graced morning, a graced talk.
The talk was on Reconciliation, and the need for it throughout our lives. Bishop Joe cited Bible stories to illustrate why.
The story of Adam and Eve shows what happens when we try to hide, rather than confess, our sins. Most important, the hiding results in separation from God and one another. As Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent, they put a layer of separation between themselves and God. More layers of separation are added with the donning of clothing. Finally, the sin is perpetuated into the next generation, with the story of Cain and Abel.
Reconciliation brings us back into honest communication with God and one another.
The story of the Prodigal Son shows how God is more forgiving than we are. Bishop Joe said he was particularly moved by Rembrandt’s painting of the story, because it shows how those who are forgiving are bathed in light, while those who are unforgiving remain in darkness. The masculine and feminine hands of the father who embraces his son suggest the Divine.
Bishop Joe concluded with a gripping story of a mother who had endured the murder of her son. She told him, “Every day I pray that I am able to allow the people who did this to my son to sit next to me at the banquet table of the Lord. Otherwise, I won’t be worthy of sitting there myself.”
Don’t miss Sister Stefanie’s thoughts on this powerful talk.