Spirituality

February – From the Minister

“There’s no academic way of making someone compassionate…It happens through experience.” -Tony McAleer Cofounder of LifeAfterHate.org In a spate of articles after the 2016 election, speculations were made about why so many big cities went blue and so many rural areas went red. Some speculate that people who live in big cities are more likely to be younger and more educated, because they moved there to find work, so they are inherently more liberal and adaptable. Some speculate that living in areas with denser populations make people more likely to think beyond their immediate...

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January – From the Minister

What do you want to be when you grow up? When we were little, we were encouraged to say astronaut, astronomer, dancer, doctor, lawyer, writer, waiter, President, pianist, plumber. Without knowing it, we were rehearsing for all the awkward moments later on when a surface answer will suffice if someone asks, “So what do you do?” Even if your job—if you have a job—is one you love, still your work is just a partial story; it might say everything or nothing about the state of your soul. But if someone asked you now, not “What do you do?” but the children’s question, “What do you...

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December – From the Minister

On a Wednesday evening here, we sat in a circle, about eight people, very quiet, very still. It was a perfect silence, companioned and deliberate. We heard the rain outside, clattering softly into sleet. We heard cars on the road. We heard a distant dog. We heard someone laughing in the Social Hall. We heard the heat come roaring on. We heard the choir practicing, and the clamor of chatter and farewells. We heard children racing in the hallways, and the clink and clank of dishes in the kitchen. These were not intrusions, just signals of our common life, its right location in the midst of...

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November – From the Minister

I am terrible at remembering people’s names. When I first meet someone, I try and try, I know all the tricks, but until I see their name and their face and put the two together several times, I am likely to forget. The name. Not the person. Because I am actually really good at faces. Once I’ve seen someone and spoken with them, once I’ve noticed something significant about you, I will remember you. If you show me a piece of yourself, I will remember you. It’s one of the complexities of work like mine, relational work, where what matters is how you know people, and how they know you. I...

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October – From the Minister

More and more I have come to admire resilience. Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side, it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true. But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs—all this resinous, unretractable earth. These lines from Jane Hirschfield are from her poem, “Optimism, ” which is no sunshiny, easy thing in these darkening, disturbing times. Optimism, hope, resilience—these are hard choices in harsh days, religious...

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September – From the Minister

The Sanctuary is quiet as I write this afternoon, nothing moving in the woods beyond the great window facing east, the steady oaks and cottonwood still sparkling from the drenching rain that came at last this morning. No deer today, no Cooper’s Hawk, none of the monarchs that have come back to us in golden clouds this summer, flashing hope around the milkweed near the stream. It’s quiet here today, as if the house were waiting for its people to come home. The room is rarely empty, though, even in the summer now, this sacred space we cherish, this home we call our own. Yesterday guests...

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