There are lots of reasons why this fellowship is important to me. The one I will talk about this morning is suggested by the new mission statement we are considering “Fueled by love, transforming our lives and our world.” It is the transforming of myself that has been so important to my life.
I came to this fellowship a frustrated Methodist, unhappily trying to reconcile a skeptical theism with lots of reading and reflection. And what I found here was the opportunity and support to define a new and deeply satisfying spiritual path.
All my life I’ve been drawn to different kinds of involvements with the world of nature: camping, lake swimming, skiing, gardening, bird watching. I saw these as no more than pleasant recreational activities, that I gave more time to than I should, but essentially peripheral.
Then I heard Mary Oliver’s poetry in Sunday services here.
From “The Summer Day”:
I do not know what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Then Liz and I went to our first General Assembly in St. Louis with Libby Jackson. There I attended a session exploring “Naturalism” – the idea that the natural world we know through science is our ultimate reality.
And it all came together. My skiing and bird watching wasn’t incidental, but rather central to who I am and how I want to be in this world. Mary Oliver validated that understanding and helped me to see and feel the meaning of my own lived experience.
Now I pay attention, I appreciate what I experience and I am led to be deeply grateful; grateful for the life I live, and grateful for the gift of this fellowship, which helped me finally to see what was in front of me all the time.
Thank you for being a part of that journey.