Today we handed over just under 8 million dollars and initialed and signed three-thousand pages. Which is to say, we made it all official. We really are moving. It's gonna happen.
Seriously, when I got to page 4 of the lease, with all its tiny print and weighty clauses, I thought, "Good grief, our new landlord must be a lawyer." When I turned to page 7, I saw by his title that I was exactly right. Yep.
I'm so much not a legal document kind of person. [And I'm in the field of liturgical studies. Go figure. I mean, really--have you ever read the book of Leviticus? It's all legal code right? You know what for? The ritual life of the people! It's a gold mine for liturgical studies!] Anyway, legal documents make me queasy. And a litle faint. They are not supple. There is no humor. There is no sense of invitation to them. And they seem to anticipate the worst in people.
I should say, though, after spending all semester creating a syllabus for a seminary course, I do understand a syllabus to be at least in part a legal document. And it can become very weighty indeed with policy statements. Expectations about attendance, plagiarism consequences, due dates, grading policies--even a necessity for a policy on electronic communication nowadays. When my creative energy was especially low a week or so ago, all I felt like doing was to write policy statements for my syllabus. That felt like a containable task. It's a good task for dry days.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not naive. I know the reason and value of legal documents. They help keep things clear. They define roles and expectations. They give you something to fall back on if conflict arises. But, boy, they sure don't communicate grace too well.
I'm not going in the obvious place with this posting, by the way. Though trained in a Lutheran seminary, I don't feel tempted here to do the whole Law/Gospel thing. Mostly because I believe what we call 'gospel' is wrung through the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the Christian Scriptures. God's abundant, steadfast love and the concept of hesed are not Christian Scripture inventions. They are only present in Christian scriptures because they are rooted in the Hebrew scriptures.
And in both Scriptures there can be a sense of the Law that'll dry you right up.
I think that's all I really have to say right now. I'm not really going anywhere in particular with this. I'm just sayin'.