Friday, October 17, 2014

Kindness

J.M. Barrie in the book, "The Little White Bird" writes "Shall we make a new rule of life...always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary". I read this in another book called "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio.
It is a book about many things, but this quote helps me to remember that kindness is so important, yet is often in short supply. I am guilty of feeling unkindly towards others, of letting my judge rule my heart more than the prince of peace, of conforming to the need to fit in and not be ridiculed for being different. I am a mixed up person of many emotions which often play tricks on my logic and so I act in unkind ways that harm or hurt others. This is not my true intent, my true intent is to sow seeds of kindness and acceptance wherever I go. I want to honor each part of creation as I live out my day, but so often I fail, and see myself acting out of unkind motives.
So, perhaps if I focus on being a little kinder than necessary, go beyond the expectations I imagine others have of me, or I have for myself, I will see an opportunity to act with radical kindness. Maybe this starts with myself and instead of putting myself down for those times I do not act with the best spirit, to let go and accept my murkiness. The only thing I can do is stay in the present and be kind.
To find ways of nurturing that kindness and pushing out the rest means seeing others as human, a mixture of kind and murkiness just like me. I choose to connect to their kindness or to the murkiness, in how I act, how I think about them.
There are those who really test my patience, and who seem outside this rule, kindness? Sometimes I rather they just go away to some isolated place and think about the bad they have done. But, if I give up on them even if they have given up on me, am I really being kind, am I being kinder than necessary?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Walk to Defeat ALS®

So it has been several years now that Lil came to live with us as she grew dependent on others to care for her after being a radically independent woman most of her life. I was never prouder of my daughters who voted to issue the invitation to her once her ALS started giving her fits and the possibility of a cure was fading. She came to live with us at first with reluctance afraid of what the future might hold, but as we grew together as a family, unsure, unsteady, ready to tip over, we made the choice to put other stuff on hold so we could give her all the care she asked for. Her friends supported her days out, and would as long as she could manage it, pick her up for a dinner, for card games, celebration luncheons.
I spent time watching tennis and dancing with the stars, with her in her room we had emptied so she would have space, and lifted her from place to place when needed.
Our new family was far from harmonious, we disagreed, we were angry, we were exhausted, and often at wit's end. But somehow we held it together, knowing a bit more intimately how precious life is, how we cannot take for granted we will be able to do anything we want anytime we want. I am not sure if I learned enough about the precious gift of health and life, I am still chewing on what I learned, but in the meantime, we walk to support the research, and the ways the chapter supports families. If you would like to help, follow this link,

Participant Center - Walk to Defeat ALS®

Blessings,
Steve

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sacred Work

Sunday in church we worshiped using the passage from Matthew 16:21-28. I preached about how important our work is in building the beloved community of God. Much to my surprise I was saying how it is by seeing our work as sacred that we can transform the smallest tasks into ways to bring hope and love into the world. I said even being an usher or hosting fellowship time can be an opportunity to build up the community because who knows if someone will be coming to church and you are the first person they see, and maybe you are the first person all week who has smiled at them, asked them how they were doing. And who knows by providing coffee and a snack you are giving someone an opportunity to talk about their lives with others and find an answer to a question nagging at them all week.
What was surprising about this for me was I did not really plan on saying this exactly. I must confess I was really trying to tie in Labor Day with the scripture , about how sacred work does make a difference. But to compare transformational work that changes lives to ushering? But then it did make sense in other ways, because I have known some very cheerful and inviting ushers who you are always happy to see when you come to church. One of those ushers in fact was on a committee that was interviewing me about my call to ministry. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" was his question that set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Yes, I do, and I do believe that God is calling me to a life of ordained ministry, not just then, but now, and every time I doubt this call, when I want to give up, I think of this man's question, of how he put all of the business of ordination into the context of my belief in Jesus Christ.
If we believe with our whole hearts, minds and souls in Jesus and the path he walks with us on, then I don't have to have all the answers, for all the many challenges of life. But I will find that it is often in the ordinary acts of life that I will find hope, and love, in the kindness of the faces of those who greet me when I come to church, in those who faithfully serve their positions in the church so we can make decisions and move forward in offering a message of love and hope to everyone we can. Is that home baked cookie just a home baked cookie, or is it God working through the person who made them?  All I know is sometimes a hot cup of coffee is just what I need, and having the time to talk to others over that cup of coffee is a divine experience of building a beloved community.
I challenged my community to look at everyone they meet with an open heart, mind and soul, to learn who they are, and in some way remind everyone whose they are. We are God's mysterious and beloved children who are united with one another through the love and hope of God.  As you go through your week I wonder if you  can look at each person you encounter as that sacred child of God who you may want to at least see with loving eyes...let me know how this goes.