It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person. That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others…. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.
-Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
My Grandfather’s Blessings
Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and found some time for reconnecting with loved ones, observing cherished traditions, and replenishing yourself. I decided to stay home this year and I spent many hours each day engrossed in good books. It was a delight to read Discovering Inner Gold: A Spiritual Memoir, a new book by beloved congregational elder Bettye Barclay. In it, she writes, “Til Evans, a dear friend and mentor, was the first person I knew who spoke of life as a spiral, and I didn’t really know what she meant. Now having circled back time and again to relearn or remember truths that seemed so clear when they first came to awareness and having lived into potential as I was invited by my yearning so long ago, I do understand. The spiral is open, unlike the circle. When I come back to a previous knowing, it’s not about revisiting the same place. There has been movement since the last time and some fuller understanding or experience is present.” I am reminded of our annual trek around the Sun and the opportunities it affords us to revisit the spiral of our lives. How have we grown or changed over the past year? What resolutions do we commit to in hope of encouraging positive movement in the spiraling of our lives’ paths?
Our Soul Matters theme for the start of this new year is Finding Our Center. We make a practice of mindful centering each week in our Sunday services and many engage in other spiritual practices that provide rootedness and help to reconnect one with their spiritual center. The metaphor of the spiral also reminds me that we have to continually return to our personal centers to be conscious of how we are progressing or sometimes missing the mark when it comes to our aspirations for ourselves. We only move towards growth and greater wholeness–from the circle to the spiral–when we are attentive to our lives and the “fuller understanding or experience” that marks progress or that greater wholeness. Knowing our center is what helps us to integrate experience with broader perspective and deeper wisdom. We must listen deeply and carefully to our own beings and to the lives of others to discern the paths to transformation and wholeness as we journey together.
Our friends at Soul Matters invite us to reflect together on Finding Our Center this month with these compelling questions: Who first helped you find your true self? Who first helped you find “the fire in your belly”? What do you do to stay in touch with the fire in your belly? What if you find your center when remembering the nicest thing someone ever said to you? Is it possible that the discovery of your deepest self lies in paying attention to the person that annoys you the most? What three things most moved you toward your center this past year? What would enable you to tell your white friends about how their behaviors keep you from or knock you off your center? What happens inside you in the silent moments? What do you hear? What do you feel? What have you learned about navigating those times in life when we lose track of our center?
Our Pastoral Care Team is available to provide spiritual companionship and support by offering a ministry of non-judgmental listening and presence. They can support you on your journey to your spiritual center. If you would like to request confidential support or if you have joys or sorrows to share with the community, please touch base with our Pastoral Care Team Co-Chairs, Linda and Denise or by calling the church office.
May your New Year be filled with an abundance of goodness, centeredness, beauty, and joy!
Yours in ministry and love,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae