The Walls of this House
Gospel: I Cor 12:12
So much life has been lived within the walls of this house! The builder was connected with the Japanese Embassy — and the brass lining of the (useless) fireplace just outside these doors is a treasure he left.
Miss Bessie Kibbee lived here with a housekeeper for 23 years. She added a little elevator by the fireplace. Then it was ours — $60,000, then $100,000 more to extend the dining room to create the chapel.
Teddy Walther was in Manning’s and my mission group. She found the wood (is it walnut or teak?) for the cross. Jimilu Mason fashioned the cross and the edges are gold leaf. Frank (Boffmaier) painted the mural in the office and my mother added the mural in the dining room.
Mother was short and could not reach up to the ceiling, so she went out onto the street and found a young man who, for 50 cents daubed white shoe polish up there…which she made into clouds. You can still see that.
The first person who wrote about the little church was Muriel Lipp (then Steffy) and she described this building as a place where church was being built and this people of God were deepening their life in Christ and their love for each other.
Today’s Lectionary scriptures are dramatic. They talk about the balance between law and grace.
In Exodus 20, the 10 commandments are listed. Four concern relationship between God and ourselves; six concern relationships between each other. They are still relevant, as they have been since 1300 B.C.
In I Corinthians, the incredible faith that is ours has always been a scandal in society — describing the gift of forgiveness, freedom and belonging through Jesus Christ. It is a faith that changes categories…not right and wrong, good or bad, but freedom from slavery.
The structures that hold our life together and the freedom to accept the unconditional love of God (and therefore each other) are focused in today’s readings from Exodus and Corinthians.
Manning Dyer was my spiritual director in the Potters House and truly understood this — the discipling structures hold us together — they are ordered responses to the grace of God.
Any power we have known, I feel, has been because of the balance between the inward journey and the outward journey.
In the families of the Seekers Church has been lived life to its depth ,
Alan Dragoo’s poems describe occasions of grace within the Seekers Community.
Jennifer Dodge died and we watched a tree still growing at Dayspring in her honor.
Eddie Lipp died and Alan wrote:
Azaleas Where For Eddie
Azaleas were in full whiteness of snow
the night I returned and heard the news
of Eddie’s death. I saw the flowers clear
in the moon-hued yard, frail in their profusion
and implausible in their perfection, and heard
high about the trees a breeze in its prelude
to wind and rain and to green leaves
crying out from the limbs. I heard
and wanted to hold my children close,
to catch their lives like a snapshot, every hair
in place, and I made this prayer to God:
Protect each child who opens
her petals to the sun; protect
each young swallow who escapes
the hold of the nest to fly
the lilting stanzas of her dream;
protect each one who defies
the constant gravity of despair;
and to Yourself enfold each one
who, as her last chord is sung, falls.
We have all been nurtured by Retreat + at Dayspring + and Alan wrote:
Oaks at Dayspring
Gaunt oaks stand
like weathered friars come
from harvests in neighboring fields
to recite sibilant offices
to the passing sun. One-by-one
the wind’s psalm is sung
through high branches and leathered hands
tremor and clap and fall slack.
About their broad feet
speckled dust motes descend
and climb the golden stairways
of the sun. (11/94)
Babies were born and brought up in this community. Amy was 13 when Alan wrote:
Perhaps you slept late
or dallied getting dressed.
Whatever your reason that morning,
I admonished you to hurry
as you bolted out the door, half together,
and down the front steps. My child
of nearly thirteen, are you ready?
Coat unzipped to the cold,
pulling on your knapsack full of books.
“Run or you’ll be late
for the bus.” You stopped, turned
and said, “I can get to the bus.
I’ve been doing it every morning.”
It was not the flip of your hair
to brush aside my admonition
nor the fire of adolescent pique
in your retort, but in your brown pupils
a woman alive there for a moment,
saying she could run her life
without my advice, who made me pause
and know how late the morning was. (4/84)
And always the Church has been nurtured by the power of the Lord in the lives of those open to God’s guiding spirit. In 1972, Alan wrote:
Listen, it is the Lord who speaks:
I will mold you like moist clay,
I will beat out sparks from your bones,
I will carve and smooth your features
until you are made new,
until I can say,
“I have made this man over
Then will I fill you with my Spirit,
Then shall my desires be in your heart,
Then shall my thoughts be in your mind,
Then shall my speech be upon your tongue.
Later, in 1974, Alan wrote this celebration of Easter Sunday:
Sing hallelujah, children of light
Sing hallelujah, sons and daughters of joy!
The temple’s curtain has been torn aside.
We have come into the Holy of Holies.
No longer look back,
open your eyes to wonder,
open your mouths and sing
May those be our words today, as we embrace the new life in Jesus Christ.