Executive Council: Closing remarks by Bonnie Anderson

Posted Apr 20, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson addressed the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council April 20 at the close of the council’s three-day meeting in Salt Lake City. This is council’s last meeting of the 2010-2012 triennium. Anderson’s remarks follow in full.

Executive Council
Closing remarks by Bonnie Anderson
April 20, 2012

First I want to say thank you. You have given your time, your commitment and your gifts to this ministry of governance and leadership. If we did not realize our role on Executive Council before, I pray all of us have come to that realization by now.

We did a lot of good work this triennium. The budget process has been difficult. However, I have great faith in the collective wisdom of the people of this Church and I believe that General Convention can do what is necessary to begin our renewal. I know God can and will do it as God, and all that God creates, gives us life.

This morning in our worship we were asked to reflect on the question, “What enables us to give our lives for others?” Some at our table commented that the Holy Spirit enables us.

In my closing remarks to the Executive Council for this triennium I want to make an offering to you, it is offered in celebration of Earth Day and offered in thanksgiving for the Holy Spirit that dwells in all things including each of us.

Here is my offering:

As I grew up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was a wise, insightful and stoic woman. I loved to ask her questions. One of my favorite questions was, “Nana, how do you know there is a God?” She always answered in the same way, “Water”.

That’s it? I’d think. Water? Everytime I asked her the answer was the same. “Nana, how do you know there is a God?”

“Water.” When I asked her to explain she told me that I would figure it out. She said pay attention.

Well, I have devoted a lot of time in my life to thinking about Water and how it relates to the existence of God. This is what I have found out and I offer it to you:

The Holy Spirit is in cahoots with Water. In fact, if the Holy Spirit has a muse, it is water.

The Holy Spirit has infused herself into us flowing through our bodies and into the earth and back again, a cycle of pure precision efficiency. Spiritual and physical, water and the Holy Spirit – flow through us and into the earth and through every creature with whom we inhabit this fragile earth our island home.

The Holy Spirit and her muse, “water” covers 71% of the surface of the earth. She floats around in the air we breathe, mist and vapor, infusing herself into our very being. Gently misting our lungs, breathe in, breathe out. And when the very depth of our spirit is touched, and even if we don’t want anyone to know, there she is squirting from our eyes and running down our cheeks. Tears. She even appears when we laugh really, really hard.

And the earth?  There she is again. She lives in the aquifers and in the soil as groundwater. Flowing through the earth with the same regularity, constancy and erratic unpredictability she has as she flows through our own bodies. Are we connected to the earth? No doubt. The Holy Spirit has made sure of that.

Are you thirsty? “Let the one who believes in me drink.” There they are, water and the Holy Spirit, together quenching of the thirst of the body AND the soul… Isn’t it just like the Holy Spirit to multi-task?

And that’s not all; she rides the tides of the oceans where 97% of the earth’s water is stored. The Holy Spirit swims with the sea creatures. In fact, she is IN the sea creatures. She is the fish, she is the water, ask the fish to separate themselves from the water. They just can’t. They are so close to it, they don’t even know they are in it!

Yes, the Holy Spirit is in cahoots with Water. She has infused herself into the 66% of the water that is in of each one of us- sloshing around inside of us, bumping right up against our souls every second of every day. Washing through us, assisting us with our health and our physical functions, recycling herself from our bodies back to the earth into the oceans and rivers, combining with other water, evaporating, cleansing herself, cleansing us, reinventing herself, refreshing us, replenishing Herself back into us and the earth and all the creatures of the earth. A veritable self-contained recycling system. Can you believe it? None of this water goes floating off into space; it all stays right here in the earth’s ecosystem, recycled over and over again.  None is ever lost, each molecule recycled and reborn and reused. In fact, God created recycling.  A closed system of reusable, recycled water for all time. Just think: Cleopatra may have taken a bath in your ice cube.

And Baptism? Well, baptism is the Niagara Falls of the Holy Spirit. Baptism – that’s Holy Baptism, the exclamation point of water!  We are infused with the Holy Spirit, the earth is infused with the Holy Spirit by our very creation, by the very gift of our birth, even before our grand entrance on sister earth, we float around comforted by the rhythm of the amniotic fluid (which is 98% water) and the heartbeat of our mother. But baptism! That’s where it all comes together. With water and the Holy Spirit. Marked as Christ’s own forever by water, the element that flows through us and flows through the earth and without which there is no life. No life, without the Holy Spirit and her muse.

Water: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38) the wellspring of everlasting life, flowing rivers of living water, draw water out of the wells of salvation. Over water the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through water God led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In water Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ. Through water we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us; ever present in is.  All the time, every minute of every day. Water.

Finally, from From “Water” by Wislawa Szymborska

“You’ve been in Christening fonts and Courtesan’s baths
In coffins and kisses
Gnawing at stone, feeding rainbows.
In the sweat and the dew of pyramids and lilacs.
How light the raindrop’s contents are.
How gently the world touches me.
Whenever, wherever, whatever has happened
Is written on waters of Babel.”

— From “Water” by Wislawa Szymborska

Homily originally written and presented by Bonnie Anderson at the CREDO convocation, Feb. 10, 2012.