Thursday, August 2, 2012

A lazy, hazy, hot August summer day

I've been watching for the katydids for four days, ever since I saw the first small, round holes in the back yard under the pine trees. This evening, at last - the sound of katydids high up in the maples on the other side of the yard from the pines.

The sound of high summer and childhood.

Today I spent the day with clergy in a parish hall in West Haven, without air conditioning. Windows open, fans on, humidity and heat climbing from 9 a.m. right through to our departure a little after 2:00.

The subject was the book by Jeffrey Sachs, The Price of Civilization. We worked in small groups: What does Sachs identify as the problem - with the economy, the working (or not!) of government and democracy, our workings with one another? What does Sachs propose as the solution? What can we, as Episcopalian clergy, do to make a difference?

On that last, after all agreeing we were dissatisfied with the second part of the book - we agree on what he says needs to be done, but he's short on how it is going to get done - the solution part, we charged ourselves with writing the second part for ourselves and committing to one action towards a more civil social discourse, a more fair economy, a more compassionate society. We came away, many of us, pledged to exercise appropriate authority as leaders in our communities to keep fairness, compassion and civility before our congregations and the communities in which we live and serve.

I'll be working on that for a long time - rewriting chapter two, and ways to fulfill the last pledge. But I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy, not-good-for-much-else hazy, hot and humid summer day, than with my fellow clergy, not trying to fix the church or worry over budgets and instead take on the bigger picture by picking over a book we have all read. Many of us would never have read that book without being invited to do so and to come together over it. And we were grateful we had read it, even with all the shortcomings we found in it.

Maybe, for me, it was such a special day and worth the time because, since it wasn't about the church and survival, we weren't our usual anxious, competitive selves. I don't know. What I do know is that for maybe the first, or at best the second time (the first being this year's clergy conference in May), I felt we were comrades in arms, companions on the journey, a band of sisters and brothers who can count on one another.

It seems to me hazy, lazy summer is the perfect time to have that encounter. The sound of katydids is the perfect finish to such a day.

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