At our writers retreat last weekend, we spent some time working through different prompts. Some of the prompts helped us explore a genre or style of writing—several provided a lens through which we could examine our own inner landscapes. One of the beautiful effects of writing with these prompts is that it gives us the opportunity to step outside of ourselves for and look at our lives and experiences more objectively. I find that I'm less judgmental in this process and more open to seeing the complexities of my personality and experience.
Melissa often tells me "feelings aren't facts." She finds herself saying this a lot in her therapy sessions as well--luckily I get a discount. It's taken me a while to catch on, but I'm slowly getting it, I think. Just because I feel something (fear, anxiety, shame), doesn't mean that feeling has to define my reality. If I can step back from the feeling a bit, I might be able to see a little more clearly.
As I allude to from time to time, I'm not really a sports fan (though in high school I was decent with a hacky sack). Somehow, both Emma and Jake have ended up playing sports, so I find myself in places I would usually avoid, like gymnasiums. It just so happens I read this chapter of Everything Belongs while sitting on the sidelines of the Lexington Road Church of God's basketball court while Jake was practicing with his Upward team. I was pretty sure the squeaking of rubber and thumping of overinflated plastics was not an ideal environment for reading, but this was something I could do without wifi.
I hope you're enjoying our journey through Richard Rohr's Everything Belongs so far. As we move to the second chapter, Rohr begins by saying that prayer is simple. To be honest, I'm not sure it feels simple yet. It doesn't feel like Rohr is complicating things, but even if prayer turns out to be a simple practice, it will never be easy. Perhaps that's part of what he's getting at in this chapter.
Kara Kilpatrick wrote this litany for our Early Worship service last week. It pulled together many parts of the service, from our reflections on the light of the world to Merton's vision on a street in Louisville of all humanity "shining like suns." She ended our prayer together with an encouragement to use the mantra "Breathe in God's blessing. Breathe out God's blessing to the world." What a wonderful contemplation that binds together our inner life as beloved children of God with God's invitation to express that love by helping our neighbors.
If you're like me, when you first start reading Richard Rohr's proclaiming via subtitle The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, you may ask "where's the part about praying?" It's an understandable question, but I think a clue can be found in Rohr's reference to The Practice of the Presence of God.
As we continue our "Why I Love Central" series Gwen Hart, one of our deacons, shares with us why Central has become a home for her... in a poem.
Why I love Central; a broad subject for sure
So much beyond what is in the brochure
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote back in the day
How do I love thee; let me count the ways
Come rain or shine or wind or hail
Don and Thomas greet without fail
High fives and hugs and a how are you
Makes every Sunday a special tadoo
The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America is a Program Partner with the Alliance of Baptists. Uniting Baptists with peacemakers from various faith traditions across North America, the BPFNA provides resources, training, and advocacy while working for justice. They have recently published a simple guide with ways that we can help the continuing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
We greet 2020 hoping for the best, bracing for the worst, but above all nurturing faith in your wisdom and love, regardless what lies in our paths. We will try, and fail, and try again—to do what we can, to give what we can, as you send daily opportunities for kindness and patience our way. And yes, over and over we will practice faith, hope and love in our own little corners of your infinite Creation. In your name we pray, Amen.