Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest and author, whose work has profoundly impacted my life. His gentleness, his compassion, his openness about the ups and downs in his spiritual journey have given me much encouragement and invited me into grace.
In his book, Bread for the Journey, he said, “Only when we have the courage to cross the road and look into one another’s eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.”
People speak of the polarization that is happening in our country and in our world. How would it be if we could transcend that “us” and “them” mentality and meet in our unity consciousness?
Rabbinic wisdom teaches, “Who is a hero among heroes? One who turns an enemy into a friend.”
And then there’s the beautiful Rumi quote, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
This Sunday, as we celebrate the 4th of July week-end, I invite you to reflect with me on how we might do better in seeing those with whom we disagree as part of “us”. How can we change our thinking so we can meet – even the parts of ourselves we don’t like – in that field of grace?
Sunday’s title is “Unflappability.” It came out of a conversation with Franklin about the guest musician we are going to have with us on Sunday, Arthur Lee Land.
Franklin was describing how wonderfully laid-back Arthur is and gave me an example of a situation where most people would have been beside themselves with stress, but Arthur was “cool as a cucumber.”
So we started talking about what a great ability it is to be “unflappable.” I suppose the elegant, spiritual term for that is “equanimity.” To me the greatest example of that quality is found in Winnie-the-Pooh!
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” ~ Winnie-the-Pooh, out of Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, by A.A. Milne
Have a great weekend!
As I have said multiple times – and will say many more – this congregation is full of people whose life experiences and wisdom are truly awe-inspiring.
This coming Sunday brings a special gift to us. One of our members, Julie Legg, will share some of her journey with us. Those of you who interact with Julie on Sunday morning in the 9am service undoubtedly enjoy knowing this cheerful story-teller with the great laugh. This Sunday she will speak about moving through years of profound grief into a place of joy and hope and gratitude.
I hope you can join us Sunday to hear Julie’s talk, “Growing Around the Barbed Wire.”
The great medieval mystic, Hildegard of Bingen once said, “I saw a woman bowed to the ground under the assault of many whirlwinds. And I saw her regain her strength, pulling herself up, resisting the winds with great courage.”
We also honor fathers this Sunday, as it is Father’s Day. Join me in appreciating all fathers – born of blood, born of love, and everything in between.
Whose Mouth Do I Speak With
I can remember my father bringing home spruce gum. He worked in the woods and filled his pockets with golden chunks of pitch. For his children he provided this special sacrament and we’d gather at this feet, around his legs, bumping his lunchbox, and his empty thermos rattled inside. Our skin would stick to Daddy’s gluey clothing and we’d smell like Mumma’s Pine Sol. We had no money for store bought gum but that’s all right. The spruce gum was so close to chewing amber as though in our mouths we held the eyes of Coyote and how many other children had fathers that placed on their innocent, anxious tongue the blood of tree?
“There is no one alive Who is Youer than You.” ~Dr. Seuss
Not too long ago, someone was describing a meeting where an important decision was being made through a consensus process. One by one, participants went around the room and shared their thoughts. The person telling me about this was touched—and changed—by the experience; until then this individual had felt like their voice was unimportant, in fact, even unwelcome.
One of the things I most love about the Jesus stories is the empowerment factor. This was a teacher who challenged his students to claim their own voice! This was a healer who restored marginalized people to their rightful place as respect-worthy members of their community. This was a spiritual leader who asked people, “What do you think? What is your experience?”
This Sunday I invite you to reflect with me on what it means to stand in your own truth, to speak in your own voice, to express YOU! As good old Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
“May my body be a prayerstick for the world.” ~Joan Halifax
The profound devotional season of Ramadan begins on June 6th. This is the ninth month of the lunar calendar in Islam, when Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, while they focus on strengthening their relationship with the Divine.
There are many diverse ways that spiritual people practice devotion. Some dance. Others chant. Some pray with a rosary, sing hymns, meditate on icons. Some gather to receive blessings in temples. Others wrap themselves in a prayer shawl. Others bring up the sun.
The dictionary defines devotion as “profound dedication, consecration, earnest attachment to a cause, a person, etc.”
This Sunday I invite you to reflect with me on the practice of Devotion. To whom, to what, are you truly devoted? How is that manifested in your life? What kinds of new devotional practices might you like to experience on your spiritual path?