Today is a heavy travel day here in the US. For many, a trip home brings feelings of relief and deep joy. For others, the air is electric with anxiety and dangers. For some, there is no going home, only the wilderness wandering within sight but not touch of the Promised Land. For not a few, the opening of the holiday season begins a pilgrimage to the abyss of grief.
I am not travelling today, but yesterday I arrived home from a far-flung vacation. Travelling that way fills me with awe and inspiration – the breadth of God’s creative imagination and delight never ceases to amaze me.
On the last day of this most recent journey, we visited an island city where Spaniards celebrated the first Christian Eucharist in the area that was to become the republic of Mexico. One commemoration of the occasion was a plaque tucked outside a church on the corner of a busy marketplace. More surprising was the sunken Jesus, a statue deliberately submerged beside a coral reef just off a busy beach.
The history is of course fraught. So much of our shared and family life contains shipwrecks and subterrranean memories, hidden and uncovered histories.
But sinking statues of Jesus is, it turns out, a niche but profound tradition spread around the seabeds of the earth; a reminder that there is no place beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy. It provides the astonishment, at the end of one’s breath, of finding God waiting even in the depths.
In the Psalm for this evening’s prayer, the psalmist writes,
Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice (Psalm 130:1)
In the Apostles’ Creed, in the morning and in the evening we remember Christ who descended even to Hell.
I hope and pray that your Thanksgiving comings, goings, and stayings are joyful, peaceful, and blessed.
And in the lonely places, and when you find yourself underwater, I pray that you will find Jesus even so, waiting to embrace you and help you to resurface, as in the beginning, the Spirit of God brooded over the deep waters, calling forth a new creation.
The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio, and writer at RosalindHughes.com. Her first book, A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing is due for release 1 April 2020 from Upper Room Books.