Finding and forgetting
By Pamela Dolan
I am an Episcopalian by personal choice and through the grace of God. My family of origin, as well as my husband’s family, are all Roman Catholic; I can’t emphasize enough the deep respect and gratitude I have for my Catholic upbringing and the ways it has shaped me. Still, for a myriad of reasons I won’t enumerate here, I chose a different path.
So for me personally, why Anglicanism? …As a start, one of the clearest definitions of Anglicanism I have read can be found in An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors). It makes plain some of the traits I so love about our church: its sense of balance and compromise, its ability to respect tradition while celebrating cultural difference, its emphasis on practice and worship over doctrine, its humble recognition that while God is unchanging and perfect the church is not. In addition, we are a church that embraces sacrament, liturgy, adherence to apostolic succession, and the centrality of the historic creeds, and you’ve got a pretty potent mix.
Not surprisingly, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is infinitely more articulate on the subject of Anglicanism than I will ever be. Writing about a group of Anglican theologians, he says something in his book Anglican Identities that I think holds true of Anglicans generally, at least when they are at their most thoughtful. These theologians, he writes, “take it for granted that the believer is always learning, moving in and out of speech and silence in a continuous wonder and a continuous turning inside-out of mind and feeling.” That sounds just about right to me.
Several months ago I had a conversation with a friend who is an Episcopal priest. I referred to a group of people I had known “even before I became an Episcopalian,” and my friend interrupted me by saying, “Dear, you were born an Episcopalian!”The comment made me laugh, but it also contained a deeper truth. Because the truth is, I sometimes do think of myself as having been born an Anglican, in terms of my inborn, God-given temperament and personality and my simple me-ness. This is not the same as saying that I believe everybody should be an Episcopalian. Rather I have a sense that in some weird way I cannot fully understand maybe, just maybe, God wants me to be one.
Without question I do believe that God wants each one of us to find a community–a spiritual home–where we can both be ourselves and, in some important ways, forget our selves. Once there, we can move out of the realm of personal preference and fulfillment, and instead focus on the work of loving God and our neighbor, the work we are all called to do.
This is a very cute post in another blog that really spoke to me this week!