January – From the Minister

I can’t think of a better time of year to contemplate discipline than the month of January in the North. A month for homebodies and introverts and mystics. A month for the weary and disillusioned. In its cold, dark embrace we can withdraw and reflect – whether in hopeless dismay or patient faith. January is a time of rest in the wake of the holidays – the race from Thanksgiving through Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, and into the New Year. It is a time of waiting for the renewal promised in the coming of Spring. Allowing ourselves the luxury of rest in this busy world takes discipline. Being patient in the waiting certainly takes discipline. Even sustaining faith in the light’s return takes discipline. So, hunker down and hibernate, let yourself be still, and just breathe – you may just hear the whispers of your heart.

Let me lie in the cave
of my soul,
for too much light
blinds me,
steals the source
of revelation.

Let me seek solace
in the empty places
of winter’s passage,
those vast dark nights
that never fail to shelter me.

~ Joyce Rupp, from Winter’s Cloak

Marion Zimmer Bradley once wrote, “To know you are ignorant is the beginning of wisdom. Then, when you begin to learn, you will not have to forget all the things you think you know. ”

There have been many times throughout my life when I have willingly admitted my ignorance, gracefully surrendering to the gentle (and not-so-gentle!) lessons life offers me at every turn. And, I admit, there have been times when I have very ungracefully tripped over my own two feet in my rush to share all the things I think I know.

The annual MLK, Jr. breakfast is coming up and I’m excited to be a part of this year with all of you. I’m reminded of something a colleague of mine recently said in a sermon – that sometimes courage looks a lot like silence. As we as individuals and as a society move forward in confronting white supremacy and racism, I’m beginning to think that sometimes courage looks like stepping back and realizing that all I think I know is not all there is to know. That’s a mouthful and takes some careful thought! Courage, sometimes, looks a lot like being quiet and admitting ignorance. And that takes discipline. For me, a middle-class, well-educated, white person, that can take a lot of discipline. Not only do I need to step back and listen to others, it also means slowing down and listening to my heart rather than my ego. Because, really, even with all the discipline in the world, none of this work we do will mean anything if it doesn’t come from a place of love. Now that’s something to contemplate during this cold January.

“Love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long…There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
~ MLK, Jr.