When I am mindful as I walk across a small bridge along a bike path flanked by trees and a large creek on one side, then I am mindful that I am suspended but crossing. I am mindful that someone crafted this bridge. I am alert to being a bi-pedal creature, oriented in four directions.
When I am mindful as I count the coins to hand to the cashier, uniformed and standing across from me, a name tag tagged to their chest, then I am mindful that I am part of an exchange today. I am mindful that beyond the coin lie certain tacit covenants between us, that I will hand this coin over and be handed my groceries. I am mindful that we both have names but are separated by a chasm even as we extend hands across that chasm to give and receive.
When I am mindful as I turn out the light and crawl into bed, sheet and blanket to cover me, quiet and silence descended, and sleep covering me quickly then I am mindful of the poverty of my human existence. That I need to be recharged. That my powers are limited to the day that has just spent me. That a descent into twilight and sleep is a resignation of my life over to the world that is greater than my singularity and a commendation of my soul into the boundless care of the Creator. Whether I sing in my head and heart a doxology to paddle into the night of rest that awaits me or pray a thank you, I am mindful until the switch is clicked and my mind rests.
When I am mindful, I wake up.
~See you Sunday. Let us come together and be mindful of mutual presence and the Presence of the Holy One. Perhaps we will step into an Awakening.
David Berlinski writes poetically a breathtaking overture to his book, A Tour of the Calculus. I am no mathematician nor a physicist, but Berlinski’s devotion to his subject is that of a priest at an altar. He has seen across the threshold into and through the mechanics of the universe and its symmetry astounds him. He relays his awe not through numbers–though he would likely argue that he could have done so by numbers alone–but through brilliant, often poetic, English. Which is to say, he relies as much on symbol and poetic nuance as any preacher trying to decipher scripture. His awe revolves around the fundamental revelation to which he is a witness: ”the real world may be understood in terms of real numbers.” You should take a moment to enjoy his brief prologue (easily enough to accomplish by looking inside the book on Amazon or having a sample of the book sent to you). This revelation is simply the notion that the world is comprehensible. Einstein said as much, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.” I prefer St. Augustine’s paean to the mystery of being, “And yet it is neither the heaven of heavens, nor the measure of the stars, nor the scope of sea and land, nor the nethermost hell; it is our own selves that we are incapable of comprehending; it is our own selves, who, in our too great height and strength, transcend the humble limits of our own knowledge; it is our own selves, whom we are incapable of embracing…” (“The Soul and Its Origin”).
As you tour the calculus of your life; fumbling with change and counting it; responding to the grumbling in your stomach by eating food; quenching your thirst; catching a glimpse of the moon carved in space in a pale blue sky; singing along with a song; communicating by way of words what is inside your mind to another living, breathing, sentient being; as you do these things and thus trace the symmetry and order of your life, you may step into the mystery (ah, thanks to brother Van Morrison!). I look forward to seeing you in the holy space of our sanctuary on Sunday. We’ll celebrate and sing the mystery. ~See you Sunday
Monday is another day of snow. The appearance of flakes, the shortening of vision, the powder piled on the sidewalk and great machines tripping and panting along the streets, rendered suddenly powerless by water, snow and ice. It is a good day to remain in doors and ransack the poets.
Tend to your soul. Turn off the meteorologists. They predict and frighten. Tend to your mind. Find one wonderful sentence crafted by a poet that can lead you to heaven’s gate at Jerusalem’s wall (that’s William Blake). Mind you, you could read a novel of two hundred pages or get started but poetry is sonic zen expansiveness. One single line can open a world. Here’s a line I found while ransacking poets today. It is by Franz Wright and his book, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, in a poem entitled, “My Place.”
I believe one day the distance between myself and God will disappear.
This Sunday, February 7th, begins our observance of Black History Month. Pastor Bledsoe will be speaking on the topic, “History As A Weapon of Defiance” (a reference to an excellent essay by Drew Gilpin Faust, “John Hope Franklin: Race & the Meaning of America, “ New York Review of Books, December 17, 2015). An excerpt from that sermon to be delivered:
Our city was recently buried beneath more than 20 inches of snow in two days. It wreaked havoc and continues to interfere with commerce and transportation, weeks after the event. People comprehend this. It is not complex. How is it possible then for our nation and in particular, for Christians, to pretend they cannot comprehend how the effects of slavery, lynching, terrorism, segregation, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and untold suffering continue to destroy Black lives? Slavery and White Supremacy have been apocalyptic catastrophes. Hence, we need a Black History Month to plow through the blizzard of lies that not only sustained these systems but continue to this day to erase, injure, and destroy.
Join us in worship Sunday as we tell the truth boldly about who we are and as we embrace across the chasm of human alienation and despair and find one another, made in the Image of God; and as we dedicate ourselves to protecting one another, loving one another.
~See you Sunday
Come, now is the time to worship. Sunday January 31st, 10 a.m. Let us gather for prayer, for song and praise, for confession and repentance, for declaring that which is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, standing together shoulder to shoulder and shining like bright lights in a darkened world.
Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…”
~See you Sunday!
So on this Sunday, the third and final day of the Blizzard of 2016, I did something I usually do not do on a Sunday: I stayed home. And let me say this–staying home on a Sunday left me empty. People can yap and complain all they want about church-goers and hypocrisy but they miss a deeper point. We need each other and being in a holy place together on a weekly basis goes a long way to resolving the issue of hypocrisy. It may not cure it, but it blunts it. Besides, you can’t talk about hypocrisy unless there is some standard of holiness and justice.
What do people do on Sundays? Laundry, grocery shopping, shoveling snow, watching way too much television and maybe a football game with talking heads and politics thrown into that drab mix. What a formula for cynicism and despair.
Keeping Sabbath–worshipping in communion with others on a specified day of the week where we rest from work and contemplate the gift of our lives–that is remarkably energizing and empowering for a meaningful life. I missed singing with you, praying with you, hearing the Word of God read and declared in our midst. Didn’t you? And if you haven’t been to church in a long time or ever, then you don’t know what you’re missing. The snow day is over, let’s come together for sabbath rest and empowerment this coming Sunday, January 31st. The Holy, Just and Loving God of Jesus Christ stand guard over us and give us peace. ~See you Sunday