Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you. Today is the first day of fall, and I'm mourning the end of summer. (Having moved, we went to the hardware store instead of the beach.) And I'm thinking about this new church being my last before I retire, so I'm thinking autumnal thoughts about the end of my career and even the end of life. But it's also a time of beginning. I'm starting in at a new, exciting church. One son is planning a wedding, another starting grad school; another preparing to graduate from college and start a career. I guess every milestone points at least two ways, doesn't it?
In fact, this not the first day of fall for some of you. For you folks in Australia and South Africa, it's the first day of Spring! (And for you folks in Brazil, these seasons might not mean much at all.) And fall means something entirely different to us in New England than it does to you in the Desert Southwest. Or Florida. Or England. Or Vienna.
We're all in a different place. Today in Texas you're praying for rain, and in Vermont you're recovering from floods. Today a friend of mine is sitting at a bedside watching over a death, while another celebrates a birth. One is just beginning chemo; another just finished it. Today in the great pilgrimage of life some of us are making our way into or out of familiar places, or certain seasons, or relationships, or difficulty, or faith, or even life itself. But where we all are is in the present moment. In all of life's changes and challenges, its gifts and graces, the invitation is to free ourselves from all dread or regret, all desire to be elsewhere, and simply be in the present moment. Life is this, not something else. Be here.
Now this might seem like a way to isolate myself, to separate myself from you who are in a different place. But here's the miracle: when I am freely and lovingly present in this moment, I meet you there. Because that's where you are, too. We are all experiencing it differently, but we're all in the same present moment. When I allow myself to be here, I am here with you.
In prayer, when I am still and fully in the present moment, I don't have to ”think about” everyone, or call them to mind. You are all here: my family, my friends, all the people I've ever known, hundreds of you who read Unfolding Light, and everyone else in the world. We're all here. Each on our own journeys, in our own landscapes, with our own stories unfolding in their own ways, are all here in the present moment. When I become deeply aware of this, I connect with everybody. And somehow I sense that a greater Someone holds us all in this present moment, this one sacred place. In this grace, every moment is the right place to be.
Whatever milestone you pass today, even if it is death, will not be your last, nor will you pass it alone. Whatever today brings for you, we are all together with you in it. And the Present One holds you, bearing you from this one sacred moment to the next, deeply present with you, and for you, and within you. Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve
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