Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday afternoons

We have just spent a lovely Sunday afternoon…loafing! Yes, that peaceful kind of loafing that includes naps, watching the light snow fall, an easy dinner eaten on the sofa around the Sunday newspaper, getting some minor stuff done of the kind that can be accomplished with a cat on your lap getting hair in the computer.  We never seem to make it to turning on the TV, watching a game, or going to a movie. And although we love taking a drive into the back country, hiking in better weather, or cross-country skiing, I’m still not able to handle getting soaked and frozen, so today we are just watching the trees outside as the snow falls, and sharing our dreams in the slow-motion tempo of a Sunday afternoon.
This really is the beauty of Sabbath…a day of rest, a day spent being happy in this wondrous world. The Daily Word today talked about the magic of grace, that wonderful and unexpected gift from God that we are given freely, without requiring our sacrifice or penance. It is ours without asking, as subtle as the beauty of the snow as it outlines every twig and branch – or as obvious as the accident just avoided, the health challenge overcome.  But it is ours to live with, to revel in. 
What would our world be like without God’s grace? God didn’t have to make the sunsets gorgeous, love beautiful, or lemon pie delicious…but that’s the way it is. And although this particular Sabbath’s grace is more about resting and enjoying things as they are, there is always tomorrow, thanks to that same gift of grace.  This world may not be perfect in our eyes, but we can make it better by passing our love on to others. We have the capacity to care, to give, to be that unexpected blessing.  
We are God’s love in action. We are God’s grace, too. Lets live up to it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Of travels and love, lots of love

The Narrows at Dawn. This photo was taken along the edge of the Acoma Indian Reservation
on the last leg of my journey home. 

It has been way too many days since my last post. In the interim, I have learned that I was, indeed, accepted onto the ministerial path at Unity, been awash in the formal admissions forms for Unity Institute, catching up with things, and recovering from pneumonia.  So I am late. 
I love the drive home from Unity Village...I often drive in complete silence, not even the radio or the CDs playing. It gives me lots of time to process what I've learned. In addition, the road this time held a number of challenges post-blizzard. I was never unsafe, but I saw lots of evidence of people that had a harder time than I did. And it took me three days to get home.
In the process of the journey and the slow days recovering, I have had some interesting insights. I have been contacting all those wonderful people who have encouraged me and loved me, held my hand, and generally thought I was indeed capable of this strange and wonderful calling. As I go through my mailing lists, I am astonished, honored, and humbled by the number of them. In my case, it took more than a village to raise this Child of God! I have been blessed with their love and confidence in me, often long before I felt equal to it.
I’m not alone. Everyone who has tread this path successfully does so with an army behind them. Its too intense a path to travel by oneself. Even if we must take the individual steps ourselves, and we must, we still need love and support. As the Dalai Lama said, “Compassion and love are not mere luxuries.  As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.” 
So I remain honored and humbled. You, dear friends, mentors, congregation, and teachers, have shown me love. You’ve shown me compassion as you’ve watched me awkwardly stumble and find my feet along the path. You've forgiven my errors. You’ve stood behind me, tutored me in some cases, and believed in me. Yes, I’ve made the steps myself. But I knew you were there, and I used that knowledge shamelessly in the inevitable dark nights.
Now I celebrate you in the bright days as well. Thank you, all of you, for being there for me, as you have been for countless others as well. I send you blessings, love, and compassion, learning from you those beautiful and necessary lessons you have so freely given. I am honored by your trust. I hold you in light and love. I see the Christ in you.
I will do you proud.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Interviews for Unity Institute

I am writing this from a hotel in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, waiting for both the roads and an acute sinus infection to clear.  The interviews for Unity Institute were yesterday at the height of the blizzard, three of them, two teams of ministers and a psychologist, who pretty much went through our internal landscapes with a steam shovel and a pickaxe.  Afterwards, the current group of ministerial students, who have been giving us marvelous support and prayer, went through the last part:  what happens if we are redirected, i.e., we cannot go to Unity Institute at this time.
Now, none of the three of us know the results. We were confident immediately after the interviews, but as the day wore on, much less so. The team has made their decisions, we’ve already heard that they wouldn’t need an extra day, but they won’t tell us the results until we are safely home (and not in their faces) on Monday. Because of the blizzard, we and the review team wound up taking dinner together last night at Unity Inn, but it was uncomfortable. The team wouldn’t meet our eyes, and so we know at least one of us has been redirected.
Oh, God, let it not be me.
What the ministerial students were so wise as to say is that a LOT of people get redirected to work on internal “stuff,” and that many of the current crop of students and quite a few working ministers have been redirected at first, some several times, and eventually made it through. The other piece about what they had to say was that in every case they heard about, the redirection was right; that there were issues that had to be worked on, or there were things that had nothing to do with them; those people had seen parents or immediate family members pass away that – had they not been redirected – they would not have been able to be with them in their final days. The upshot – and, as sick as I am, lets go for the upshot – is that Spirit always knows, even if we don’t at the time, and that our path is as its going to be, and be the best for both us and the people and congregation we are to serve. We are ALL bound to serve; it just remains to see in what capacity.
We were, I believe, authentic and transparent. And if our transparency results in a redirection and we can’t go to seminary right away, that is life in Spirit.  I guess the point is that sometimes God redirects our life; but it is never a mistake to Spirit, even when we don’t particularly want to go where God/Spirit leads us. We will find our way, our version of how to serve in the greatest capacity we have to deliver. When you think of how each person – you, me, that person at the bustop over there – truly is God inside, even if we are not manifesting it particularly well at the moment, you can see there is a Grand Pattern. We retain the ability to have free will within it, yes, but somewhere we fit in.
The three of us remain dreamers, guiders, lovers of this blessed humanity and the people we serve. Yes, we serve you, wherever, whenever, and however God leads us to do that.