Minister’s Musings ~ September 2017

Scripture: Hebrews 13.1 –
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

We Have a Calling In This World
by Jean M Rickard
We have a calling in this world:
We are called to honor diversity,
To respect differences with dignity,
And to challenge those who would forbid it.
We are people of a wide path.
Let us be wide in affection
And go our way in peace.

The theme for September is WELCOME, a perennial theme whose ancient echo urgently calls us to be “wide in our affection.” If we practiced radical WELCOME, we just might find our edges expanding and our comfort levels challenged.

As we witness the widespread destruction and disruption that Hurricane Harvey has caused, we feel an aching compassion for the suffering and we desperately want to help. Moving stories are pouring in of people helping people. It seems when tragedy strikes people are stretched beyond their limits and they find a generosity of spirit within themselves they couldn’t have imagined. Tragedies like Katrina and Harvey bring out the best and the worst in people. Thankfully, most people find their best selves and through acts of courage and compassion make the suffering bearable.

Last month, I referenced a study at the University of Minnesota that looked at how long a person can hold a bare foot in freezing water. It was discovered that people can withstand the freezing pain twice as long when there was someone else in the room. Compassion expands human resilience. Compassion DOUBLES human resilience! When in your life have you experienced this phenomenon in both the giving and receiving?

The Soul Matters Sharing Circle resources suggest another way for us to understand the meaning of welcome:

Welcoming is most often associated with “bigness.” We speak about “expanding the circle” and making more room. We talk about make ourselves larger through the practice of welcoming in new experiences and new ideas. But there is also the work of becoming smaller. And sometimes that is the even more important work.

For instance, those of us who are white are learning that true welcoming of diversity just can’t happen until we shrink and de-center our voices. We also know that expanding community and welcoming newcomers requires right-sizing our needs and putting our preferences second. Welcoming regularly involves the smallness of humility and willingness to listen and learn. The great spiritual teachers remind us that the key to feeling at home in the universe is seeing ourselves as a tiny but precious part of a greater whole, rather than believing that the whole world revolves around us. Downsizing and living simply allows us to welcome in more experience, adventure and peace. And, of course, there’s also the work of downsizing our egos enough to admit mistakes, ask for forgiveness and welcome in the work of repair.

Bottom line: There is a deep spiritual connection between the smallness of self and the expansiveness of relationship. It’s a curious and wonderful truth: the road to widening the circle often starts with limiting our own size. By becoming “smaller,” we paradoxically are better able to welcome in and receive the gift of “more.”

Join us on Sunday mornings as we in explore the possibilities and the gifts of WELCOME, self-awareness, and learning to be “wide in our affection.”

See you in church!