Friday, March 15, 2013

Looking both ways

       Momentous events this week! 
      Habemus papam! As the news of the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as the next pope traveled across the internet, I must say I was amused by all of my Facebook friends who are Protestant trumpeting the news: "We have a pope!" I thought, "Wait a minute. Didn't y'all separate from Rome several hundred years ago BECAUSE of the Pope? And now he's YOUR pope?" Indeed, in one of the early Church of England litanies, one stanza read: "From all sedition and privy conspiracy, from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, from all false doctrine and heresy, from hardness of heart and contempt of thy word and commandment. Good lord, deliver us" (1552 Book of Common Prayer). This stanza was quickly changed (thankfully!), and didn't appear in the 1559 prayer book.
       We've clearly come a long way in four hundred and sixty years! The election of a non-European as pope is one signal of change. The election of a Jesuit as pope is another. Cardinal Bergoglio's choice of "Francis" as his papal names is still another. Many within, and without, the Roman Catholic Church are hoping that this new Pope will bring a new vision and vigor to the Church. Those of us non-Roman Catholics recognize the influence the Pope has throughout the world, and are equally hopeful for continued improvement of relations between the Romand Catholic Church and the world's other religious traditions. When Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, the world saw that ending as presaging a new beginning; Pope Francis I bears those expectations.
        Momentous as well, but in a smaller way, was the ending of Winter Quarter at DU. Wednesday was the last official day of classes; I'll have final papers to start grading tomorrow afternoon. One student posted to her Facebook page something to the effect that now that fingers are done with finals, what do they do now? The ending presages a beginning. What is done is done. The quarter is in the past. Ahead, for some, is a break and then another quarter -- perhaps the last of college? For fewer, this week contained their last collegiate class; ahead is a job or graduate school or . . . New beginnings.
        And today, March 15, aside from being the Ides of March, is also "Match Day" when medical school graduates learn of their next stage: a training position at a teaching hospital. I was pleased to learn that a 2008 DU graduate I know will be headed off to be a pediatrician on the East Coast! An exciting new beginning, that, I imagine, makes all those long hours studying and doing rotations worthwhile. One ending, another beginning!
       The Roman god Janus, pictured above, looks both ways.  He was the god of beginnings and transitions, found in doorways and gates.  He looks to the future and the past.  He served as a reminder that time is fluid, and that we keep on moving.  Associating a god with transitions places all of that movement, all of our time, in the context of the divine.  I would imagine that most of us, whatever our religious tradition, would do the same.  We can sense the Presence in the events that have brought us thus far; we have hope that that Presence will accompany us as we move on.
        May we be led to a future that satisfies and delights us!



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