“Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy…”
I’m back! Catching up on email, helping two new staff members get up to speed, trying to remember the deadlines for getting in staff reflections, bulletins, Overview announcements, etc. And connecting with you one by one through email, phone, rare chance encounters in the office. Leading worship yesterday through our yearly practice of Instant Sermons was great fun and I loved hearing the questions. They always help me feel so much closer to you.
As I left in July, I wrote to you that I hoped to encounter the Holy moment by moment even in the midst of the nitty gritty – “taking out the trash, picking up puppy poop, doing the dishes, etc.” I thought of that hope several times and wondered, “Am I accomplishing my mission? Am I letting go and living in the moment?” Isn’t it amazing that even when we set out to rest, to just be, we find it so hard to set down our accomplishment mindset? The voices in our heads that say, “What did you do today? Did you move any farther in the building of your life? Did you get better at what you want to accomplish?” are tyrannical! I did have moments of “being”, in play, in reading, in laughing with Hal and friends, in three wonderful trail rides at Ring Lake Ranch. I did not have quite as many quiet meditation moments due to an active puppy. These will return, in time.
Anne Lamott, a wonderfully funny, poignant and deeply thoughtful writer, has a book titled, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I have yet to read this book, but the title is right on. (And having read other Lamott books I can highly recommend her writing.) “Help,” “thanks,” “wow” are three ways to stay in the moment in life and in prayer. I know I had these moments on sabbatical. “Help” me be patient with this puppy, with myself, with our government! “Thanks” for the wonder of growing my own tomatoes and eggplant, arugula and pumpkins in our backyard, for the antics of puppies that make me laugh, for a week in a beautiful place where someone else cooked delicious food and I reconnected with old friends! “Wow, Holy One!” Creation is astoundingly and inexpressibly beautiful! “Wow” - that sky and those clouds and those multi-colored cliffs that surrounded me as I road horseback through the wilds of the Wyoming’s Wind River basin. “Wow!” as I gazed at 1500 year old petroglyphs made from the prayer images of indigenous people who lived on this same land that was welcoming me with open arms as it had welcomed them.
So as I return to ministry with you in this strange fall of 2020, I say, Help and Thanks and Wow! “Help” us learn more together, and learn more deeply, what it means to be the people of God in the midst of pandemic, protest and political elections! “Thanks” for the beloved community of Plymouth as we learn to connect in new ways in the midst of social distancing! “Wow, Holy One!” You are Love and Love is with us always! In times of darkness and in times of light. You accompany us moment by moment. Even when we are not watching.
Blessings to you my fellow travelers as we journey together,
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Read more