Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Feast Day of St. Thomas

Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas, most famous for his doubting.  I've always wondered what else he did, and whether or not he'd feel annoyed that he's most remembered for that moment that he doubted.  I have this vision of Thomas as having amazing artistic talent for example, and no one knows that now.  We remember him for that one moment of disbelief.

Who can blame Thomas for doubting? It was a fantastic story, even if you had travelled with Jesus and watched his other miracles. Once you saw the corpse of Jesus taken off the cross, you would have assumed it was all over.

And then, it wasn't. Thomas, late to see the risen Lord, was one of the fiercest believers, legend tells us, Thomas walking all the way to India.

I wonder if Thomas is near and dear to the heart of the more rational believers. We're not all born to be mystics, after all. But I worry about our vanishing sense of wonder.

We've all become Thomas now. We don't believe anything that we can't measure with our five senses.  And yet, we live in an interesting scientific time, where discoveries seem more aligned with the miraculous than we might be used to thinking of science being.
The more I read in the field of the Sciences, the more my sense of wonder is reignited. I continue to be so amazed at the way the world works, both the systems we've created and the ones created before we came along. The more I know, the more I want to shout from the rooftops, "Great show, God!"  Long ago, when my friend had small children, they would shout this refrain whenever they saw something beautiful in nature, like a gorgeous sunset; I try to remember to shout it too.

I’m also aware that it’s the time  of year when people sink into depression, when their sense of wonder might desert them.  But it is the Winter Solstice, and starting today, we get a bit more light, day by day, until before you know it, we’ll be back to summer again.
So today, as the earth leaves its darkest time and inches towards light, let us raise a mug of hot chocolate to St. Thomas, who showed us that we can have doubts and still persevere. Let us raise a mug of hot chocolate to quantum physics and solstice celebrations and all the ways that the natural world can point us back to our Creator. Let us pray that our rational selves live in harmony with our sense of wonder.

And if you need a poem for your feast day, here’s one that I wrote years ago, in the time after Easter.  I was inspired by this blog post by Jan Richardson.  Her post made me think of those fancy Easter eggs that had a charming scene inside, and the interesting juxtaposition between those eggs and Jesus' open wound.

Into the Wound

Thomas approached his Savior’s bloodied side,
Everything for which he longed, yet so feared.
He felt the warm flesh and looked deep inside.
The vision left him changed and scarred and seared.

He saw a series of worlds in that wound.
He saw a future that could be so fine.
He saw a world of absence, so ill tuned.
He saw a table set with bread and wine.

He saw the start of all the universe
And staggered back, but Christ kept him steady.
“Wash your hands,” Christ said, his voice almost terse.
Christ knew the dangers for those unready.

Legend says Thomas walked to India;
What dream prompted him, we always wonder.
But you, too, could hike to outer Asia,
If you had the same vision to ponder.

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