The composition is mine and the quotes are from J.R.R. Tolkien. I shared this at Theology on Tap after speaking on the Parish.
There is a dream for the parish and “a single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” Now we all know parishes that do not live up to that dream. “I will not say, do not weep for them, for not all tears are an evil.” But also, “Go to communion with them, (and pray for them) … It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand.” And when we are tempted to declare that a dying parish deserves it, remember, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” When we do so we laugh with the dragon, and one should “Never laugh at [or with] live dragons.”
But do I stand in judgement of those without a parish? No, for “Not all those who wander are lost.” But if you are not looking, remember, “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” Maybe you have big dreams and fear that the parish is too small. Afraid that if you pour into the parish it will become “a cage,” you’ll be “behind bars until use and old age accept [you], and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.” If you have these grand dreams you are called to them. Recall as well, though, that, “All that is gold does not glitter,/ From the ashes a fire shall be woken, /A light from the shadows shall spring.” The little jobs we do here as co-workers of Christ can have grand results. This is the work of reviving the parish and we must do it, for “It’s the job that’s never started [that] takes longest to finish.” It will look bleak sometimes, but “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
My prayer for you is that you have a home in a parish, a place to receive “the only cure for sagging or fainting faith” and “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”