a field where we meet as people of faith…

As I write, the Episcopal church of America has come together for its 77th General Convention. Bishops and deputies from all over this country and throughout the world have joined for nine days of hard work, renewing worship, a wonderful chance to share resources and time to reconnect with good friends.

Three years ago I boarded a plane with my dear friend, Frankie, and journeyed to Anaheim California for the 76th General Convention. I remember that time with a grateful heart and a spirit stirred with questions and passion – seeking inspiration on how we look ahead to express our faith by word and action in this time of history. No one can prepare you for this experience. Grand halls and meeting rooms overflow with people as topics are discussed that affect the life and practice of our faith community.

There are many disagreements. Yet today we are standing on the edge of a new horizon. A horizon that calls us to expand our vision and prepare for change. Our divisions continue to stress our conversations and the spirit, as always, moves us forward. Our church has come together again, knowing that the changes before us will be challenging, requiring sacrifice and grace. My prayer – we can find a common ground–rich with the fruit of God’s Spirit and supplied with the tools needed to build a bridge that will carry us safely across this time of transition.

I am reminded of the wise words by Rumi: ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.’  It is in this field that I believe we are called to gather.

The picture I share below was taken from the last General Convention.

In a moment outside of time I experienced the ‘field’, Rumi describes with such grace. Offering the homily during noonday worship – the Archbishop of Canterbury shared reflections charged with hope and concern, and I felt the tension of our common faith and current differences. The larger (world-wide) Anglican church was watching this convention with critical eyes. Passion and opinion was everywhere.

As is norm, during the service we were welcomed to exchange the peace – I was close to the front greeting those around me. Turning, I faced this man of great stature, who with a sense of awkward isolation was looking my way. Dressed in all his splendor and towering above a room filled for worship, the Archbishop of Canterbury dropped to his knees and reached over the edge of the stage to share God’s peace with me. “Thank you for coming.” I said. “Thank you for having me.” was his response. Surrounded by the noise of disagreement and unrest, for a moment all was quiet. Unaware of anything else I found myself where no words were needed – our world was full.

Since that time this picture has been a reminder for me–a reminder that God’s ability to bridge division should never be underestimated. We are called again and again to seek out one another in that field of quiet peace. This is what we are given and this is what we build on.

17 thoughts on “a field where we meet as people of faith…”

  1. Thank you, Carrie, for your wonderful reflection of what you experienced three years ago – and your dream and hope for this year’s General Convention. I’m home briefly tonight (laundry and packing} as I leave early in the morning for the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical & Cultural Research in Minnesota, where I’ll be meeting 12 other disciples of Jesus from a variety of denominations, all of whom, like me, have been chosen for this adventure sponsored by the Lilly Endowment. All of us have been chosen to participate in a weeklong workshop for ‘working pastors’ who want to hone their writing skills ‘for the life of faith.’ (The list of participants is a group from across the country and our leaders are Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver.) Somehow, checking emails and seeing your reflection on General Convention, is very affrming in terms of my place and gifts in the Episcopal Church. I am grateful for our our bishops and deputies at General Convention. And I have fond memories of your sharing with me your experience of Convention three years ago, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, bending low to shake your hand!! I look forward to this coming week;s journey and what it offers for me in God’s call to all of us to be midwives of a church in the process of birthing a future only God, God’s Spirit – and the message of the kingdom within us taking new root and wings, inspires and calls us to, in our being and becoming. Blessings and hope to see you when I next get to Asheville! PS If you haven’t read “This Odd and Wondrous Calling” by Daniel and Copenhaver, it’s a really good read, especially for parish priests and anyone who’s had that experience!!


  2. Holy Mary Mother of God, Carrie // that is a great photograph!
    I am blessed to have known you almost all of your holy life.
    Thank you,
    Ed Cooper MD
    UVa doctor


      1. Yes Carrie – — the older I get (now 70 as of July 3rd) the more I believe in coincidences, that they carry messages. Like in the mid 1970s when three families moved to a small city in Eastern NC, each for a different reason, but each house within a mile of each other. You (when your Dad was rector at St. Mary’s), your UVa nurse from the Children’s Rehab, and Me, one of your UVa young doctors!

        That fact and the peaceful image of the field:

        (From your paragraph above)
        I am reminded of the wise words by Rumi: ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.’ It is in this field that I believe we are called to gather.

        That in turn reminds me of the Gospel of Thomas (perhaps a different Thomas than my patron saint for July 3rd!):

        Verse 113: …It will not be said, ‘Look here!”or ‘Look there!’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.”

        We are all created in the image of the Son. The kingdom is everywhere.


  3. Carrie, I had to look up Rumi and learned that he was a 13th century Persian mystic Muslim poet and theologian. I like the Rumi quote you listed above two weeks ago:

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

    And your comment that followed: “It is in this field that I believe we are called to gather.”

    I heard the Gospel lesson today in church, from the 6th chapter of Mark:

    He [Jesus] said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

    But the other part of lesson was that when the boat landed at Gennesaret, the crowd had already gathered for healing by Jesus. Always we are called to serve.


    1. Thank you for sharing this insight, Dr. Cooper. I have always felt compassion for Jesus when he attempted rest and renewal. Always we are called…


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