February 20, 2024

From the Rector…



There is a scene in the third installment of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in which Captain Barbados is about to release the goddess, Calypso. Just before he does, Will Turner asks her to name the person who tricked her into captivity many years before. Calypso opens her eyes and with great focus and clarity spits out the name, Davey Jones. Davey Jones had been her lover, capturing her heart and imprisoning her in human form. Now with the British Empire surrounding them and Davey Jones beholden to that empire, the pirates believe if they release her, she will help them defeat the British and rule the seas. But first, she must remember who she is really angry with.

Had Calypso been released in power and fury without want of any clear direction upon which to express her anger, she might well have simply poured out her wrath upon the pirates themselves—the very ones who sought to release her. At the last minute, they employ great wisdom in having her name the source of her anguish. For it is only in the naming of the thing that she can clearly exercise her judgment and avenge herself of the harm that has been put upon her.

Lent is an opportunity for self-examination and an opportunity to clarify and develop spiritual disciplines that draw us into closer relationship with God, others, even ourselves. In this first week of Lent, we invite you to name the habits that hinder your relationship with God and with others. Our focus is on news and media—our screens and use of technology—but if yours is different naming it is still important. In the naming of our vices, we begin to claim them in such a way as to achieve power over those vices instead of allowing our vices to hold power over us.

Calypso needed to name Davey Jones not simply to understand who had wronged her but in order to take back her own power. As long as she was not willing to say his name, he continued to exercise dominion over her in the negative space of shame and hurt and guilt. Once she said the name, she became free. Releasing her from her earthly bonds became the next step in the direction that led her to the possibility of becoming whole once again.

Naming our vices opens to us the possibility of noticing how those vices attempt to gain power over us. We begin to notice how much time they take up in our life—literally in their practice and emotionally in our psychological struggles. We also notice the hidden desires and virtues that the vice compensates for. A classic example is the case of sloth which is often a mistaken attempt at peacekeeping. If we are slothful and do absolutely nothing, how then would we ever offend? Of course, the reality is that the offense is in the refusal to do anything, but we allow peace and sloth to get twisted up together which produces shame and sin.

Naming and noticing create awareness in our life. Such awareness empowers us to transform that which needs transformation and enriches that which needs development. We grow through awareness and begin to live more intentionally choosing that which brings us fulfillment and purpose. Or, in the language of the Book of Common Prayer, “…that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy.” (p. 269)

Once Calypso has named her enemy, she must then do battle with him. She pours out her anger and rage on the sea, such that the ship of her captor and her savior are caught up in a tempestuous battle. As the emotions and the wind become increasingly turbulent, her fury is made evident. It reaches a climax as the battle below her rages between the pirates and the empire and as two are made one in holy matrimony in the midst of the storm. Calypso begins to quiet at that point—the pain of her anguish extinguished within the possibility of new love, new life. She becomes transformed and the seas grow quiet. She named her vice, fought through her vengeance, and discovered her peace. Maybe that is our first step as well—to name what imprisons us and thus the path of our own discovery might unfold before us.

Light and Life in this season of Lent,

Candice+

candice@coascension.org