United Methodist clergy appointments usually begin July 1, so this Sunday a lot of people will be hearing from a new preacher. Some folks are retiring, with varying degrees of regret or anticipation. In a couple of months students will enter a new world at college. When we face a new situation our temptation is often to ask, “What do I like?” Do I like this new pastor? Do I like preaching to these people? Do I like this set-up?
Sometimes that's a helpful question to ask, but usually it just gets us all tangled up in our judgments. It's always good to ask, ”What can I learn?” From this new pastor, in this new life situation, on this new day—what can I learn? In this moment, like it or not, life is giving me the opportunity to learn more about the universe and about myself, and more of God. I am being given the chance to grow, to deepen my practice of forgiveness, say, or attentiveness, gratitude, litheness or compassion.
Everything is a teaching, a chance to learn and practice. It's a gift. But only if I stay open and curious. Even if it's a rotten situation, nine times out of ten curiosity beats misery. Compassion always covers the rest.