Deep Calls to Deep
These four wise ones from the East, who traveled far, from Boston, Southern Cal, Kentucky, stood in awe before the million gallon tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (with their new hammerhead shark friend) and thanked God for the chance to dive deep into their – preaching?
Yes, three Episcopal priests and my dear UCC colleague Kent Gilbert are a peer group in the sermon enrichment program from Virginia Theological Seminary, called, appropriately, “Deep Calls to Deep.”
In this year long program, “Preachers nourish their passion for preaching through voice and embodiment work and through deepening their connection with the Holy Spirit.
The call to preach comes from the depths of God and meets us in our own depth. In order to respond from our own depth we need to nurture our body, mind and spirit, revitalizing, in peer groups, the vitality and hope that fueled your preaching ministry when you first began this wonderful yet challenging work of proclamation.”
(These wise preachers could have spent their mid-program retreat in wintery Virginia, but they took their Lilly money and came to Monterey! Wise ones indeed!)
My job was to take them deep into Blue Theology, the wisdom and wonders to the sea. Actually the Monterey Bay Aquarium and later the tidepools of Asilomar Beach did all the work – we just dove in!
Sometimes we volunteers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are told not to be too “preachy” about ocean conservation. But at the same time they teach and encourage us to tell stories of hope, to be inspiring, and to “make the ask” for how guests might change their behavior to promote ocean health. Sounds like “vital proclamation” to me! Preach it brothers and sisters!
In honor of my new deep friends, here’s a piece called “Down and Deep” I wrote a year ago:*********
Christian language seems to love UP, rising, lift up your hearts. I want more DOWN. I love my higher power, but I want a deeper power. What's the difference, up or down? From the sea I have learned to love the down. From my own female body I have come to cherish the dark and deep.
Many hymns and prayers still assume we live on a flat earth. Praise God above ye heavenly hosts. God on high. Hosanna in the highest. So quaint and so wrong.
God and God's creation are more deep than high. Deep oceans of course but also deep space. I mean deep deep deep. I don't think deep space ever ends. If God is everywhere, then God is deep.
Take a deep breath. Not a high breath. In-spir-ation is deep, dark, down.
I prefer people who are deep, wise, profound (literally, deep) to people who are high, and mighty. Wisdom looks down, not up.
Creation stories are not just in Genesis but in Job: “Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have you seen the gates of deep darkness?” God asks Job.
"They tried to bury us - they didn't know we were seeds." The ocean and my deep dark body teach me that we are seeds, God waits and ferments, foments in the dark. Growth is hidden. Yes, we need light but no growth happens without dark depth.
"Lift up your hearts" - "Let your living heart beat deep within you."
"As Christ rose" - "As Christ dove deep."
"Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing his wings"- "Depth and dark with all Christ brings, deep dark healing in his fins.”
“Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest.”