The wonder of Benedict, Geering and my Mum

The wonder of Benedict, Geering and my Mum

The Rev. Sande Ramage

3 March 2013

 

No matter how much my Mum tried to speak softly about the outrageous goings on in the Presbyterian Church with 'that man Geering', I could hear her telephone whisperings.
 
One of the great advantages of my childhood bedroom was its proximity to the telephone. A significant cream instrument with braided cord, set upon a clever combination of table and seat, which gave the telephone an exalted status, only to be used for important calls.
 
Apart that is from the cascading morning calls to my nana and aunts where all the significant family decisions were made, despite the menfolk believing they did that in my Uncle's shed up the back of Nana's property.
 
According to the string of phone calls I was eavesdropping on, Lloyd Geering, although a Presbyterian minister himself, couldn't possibly be a man of God with his heretical idea that Jesus of Nazareth hadn't bodily risen from the dead. He was, mused my mum, undermining our Baptist home and quite possibly the whole of Christianity.
 
Naturally, this heresy sounded appealing if a little confusing to my 13 year old ears. Did it mean I couldn't talk to Presbyterians in the same way as I wasn't meant to talk to Catholics?
 
All Catholics that is apart from my Great Uncle Jim, who was so Catholic he went to mass every day. Then there was his sister the nun. Both sidled past the heretic barrier on a relative pass. I found the casual blurring of boundaries bewildering.
 
I imagine it was my rellies influence that had me sneaking out to haunt the back rows of the Catholic Church reveling in chants, incense and candles. Needless to say, I didn't mention any of this outrageous popery to Mum.
 
Decades later when I started serious theological study I found those secret visits mingling in a delighted repartee with the kind of theology that had inspired the whispered phone conversations. Heresy was delightfully mainstream.
 
This week as Pope Benedict resigned and Lloyd Geering turned 95 (still going strong!) I found myself musing again about this collective of mystery, beliefs and intellect, strange bedfellows on the spiritual journey.
 
The life of the mind, exploratory, incisive, paring down obstacles and often beliefs in the pursuit of knowledge. Coupled with mystery, layered, intuitive, not easily quantified or examined. Another kind of knowing that creeps up on you.
 
Like my Mum. Despite limited theological education she was steeped in daily rituals of connectedness that left her with a deep, intuitive knowing.
 
She probably knew all along about the value of heresy and her kid's religious wanderings. How ironic those two crusty old theologians should reveal that to me this week. Wonders will never cease.