Posts Tagged ‘renewal’

The Song

March 2, 2016

Studying and pondering in my office this early morning I am always aware of the many sounds of our building; the hum of the fluorescent lights above, the crick and crack of the heater vent along the wall, the wind across the vent going to the roof, Debbie’s singing clocks, and the occasional self-adjusting copy machine down the hall.

This morning though there is a new sound. It is a familiar sound I did not realize on which I had been waiting. In some sense for me personally, and perhaps for you as well, it seems to have been a long fall and winter. Changes and transitions in my own journey, new opportunities, new studies, and connection have both fed my heart and soul and challenged me to venture deeper in faith and practice.

The constant drone of negativity in our media, campaigns of upcoming elections, the violence, hatred, and bigotry we see and hear so often in the world around us can take a toll on one’s journey and view of the world if we let it.

This morning though, in the early morning light and cool beginning of the day I heard a new sound as I walked across the parking lot. It continues outside my window as I ponder and write these words. I am not a bird person and so I am unable to identify the type of bird it is, all I know it is a familiar song that always sings of the coming of spring.

With all that confronts me, us, in our lives, in our community of faith, in our community, our state, and nation, there is still reason to sing. It is a new song, again, speaking and singing of new life and hope. It has filled my cup this morning and reminded me once again the Spirit is present, hope is in the air, and for all the voices to the contrary, this is still a good place with good people, living and loving along the journey we travel.

Take some time this week to listen. Listen for the songs of hope singing for you in the world around you. They are there, immersing you in a love from which you can never be separated. Thanks Be! It is one of the many small ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

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Peace

May 11, 2015

Peace

I have had the opportunity to be even more ponderous over the last week than usual. TruDee and I had the opportunity to take a little time away in the mountains of Colorado and enjoy a wonderful setting in the cottage of friends Bruce and Vickie. Our first morning I rose and wandered downstairs to find coffee and a little quiet after my morning walk. I started a pot of coffee and opened the cupboard to find coffee cups with peace signs. “Cool,” I thought.

I poured a cup and went to the front porch and sat in the cool Colorado air to ponder. Peace I thought, there are a multitude of thoughts on peace, as I sat and considered the sign on my cup. There is a lot going on in the world today that might disturb one’s peace, at least it seems to keep mine stirred up. There was something deep inside that morning that called to me as I considered the sign on my cup.

Two quotes came to mind, one from Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinkhs of changing themselves.” It’s true, there are days I so want to change what I and so many others see as wrong with the world around us, but perhaps the first step is to consider oneself, if my own peace is not intact, how am I going to be able to affect meaningful change and peace in the world around me? “Good question,” I said to myself.

The other thought that came to mind is from the Dalai Lama, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” There will always be conflict, disagreement, and difference. How we engage such conflict and disagreement is fundamental to how we remain at peace within and how we further peace in the world around us.

Being mindful of my own inner peace in each moment remains a challenge, though a constant goal in my life. How do I keep that ever before me and not get distracted by my own willingness to allow others and circumstances to distract and disturb? It’s a good question I suppose and one that remains along the journey of life and community.

Each morning I filled my “Peace Cup,” and pondered, meditated, reflected, and read on what it means to maintain my own sense of peace. In some sense it seemed easy to do when I did not have the television on, read the paper, or listen to the news. It was just me, TruDee, the mountains, a cup of coffee, and a couple of friendly squirrels that wondered why I was on their porch.

All this to say, I will be back in the office tomorrow, refreshed and renewed in the cause of promoting justice, kindness, love, and peace in the world around me. Restored, if you will, with a new sense of the peace of being present in the world in which I live. And with a token that has traveled with me from the mountains of Colorado by the generosity of our friends, the cup that journeyed with me last week rests here at my computer’s side as a visual reminder to be at peace, here and now. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of peace.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

The Cone!

May 19, 2014

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He was limping around before we had gone out for dinner with friends last Friday evening. He had done it before, we think the way he runs on the rocks around the perimeter of the house in the backyard he had bruised a pad on his foot. The last time it happened after a few days he was fine. I thought it was the same thing so really did not give him much sympathy.

We returned home from dinner and “Hop-a-long” was still limping around, but then I noticed the hole. My first thought was that someone had somehow shot him through our back fence. Moz had a hole in his front leg. I went to him and knelt down and gently picked up his leg in my hand to take a look only to discover blood all over my hand. I got him to lay down and discovered a large deep gash under his leg into his side, in his “leg pit” if you will.

We took him to the pet ER where they put him under and stitched him up and placed the dreaded “cone of shame” around his neck. He was going to be fine, but he was pretty pitiful looking with the large cone around his head, they had to use a large one because of his big neck.

Moz really struggled with the cone. He could not see and as a result would run into things and that was only if he held his head high enough so the cone did not get it stuck on the floor. He would just sit and stare dejectedly off into some kind of nothingness. When we put him to bed he would not lay down he just sat with his head down and sang a sad, sad song all night long. The cone is supposed to be for his own good so he will not lick at or pull his stitches out, but it is a sad affair.

Saturday morning I took him out in the yard to do his duty. He just sat in the grass and stared at the fence. Finally I unhooked his collar and pulled the cone off. He immediately stood up, walked over and did his “jobs” and walked back to the door to the house. We went inside and he laid down on the living room floor and went to sleep. He was free at last. A friend suggested rather than the cone we roll a towel and wrap it around his neck. It was a wonderful idea. It still protected his wounds but gave him more comfort and freedom to move around.

Life and faith can feel like that at times. We can get so caught up and bogged down in the way we have always thought, believed, the way we have always done things it can be like a cone around our heads. Our vision is limited; life and faith can become a burdensome yoke of dogma, doctrine, laws, rules, and restrictions that choke the joy of the unconditional love of God in Christ out of our lives, our faith, out of the church.

College Hill UMC has a long tradition of rethinking, reconsidering; striking out on new paths to discover here the Spirit might be doing a new thing. I believe we are as a religion and as a denomination right in the middle of such things today. There are those who find comfort in the old laws and restrictions and there are others who feel some of those tired laws and restrictions are burdensome and vision limiting. There is something to be said about beliefs that bind us together; there is also something to be said about finding new ways and expressions that enhance to freedom of the faith rather than continuing to restrict the Spirit.

I continue to wrestle in the tension of things of tradition that may be valuable and the things of tradition that are a “cone” around the neck, blinding, awkward, unhelpful, and burdensome. But I, and I pray we, continue to journey, continue to wrestle with and seek to know where the Spirit of Love will lead and what God may be doing new in our midst. May we stay awake to the freshness of grace and the newness of the Kindom that is still becoming in our midst. May we throw off those burdensome restrictions and embrace fully the freedom Love gives.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

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Fishing Zen

October 6, 2011

I stopped just south of Burrton the other day on my way home from a meeting in Great Bend. I had made earlier plans to meet my good friend from Kansas City at our favorite fishing hole late in the afternoon to get in a few hours on the water and catch up on solving all the world’s troubles.

I love to go fishing, I primarily fish with artificial bait casting in close to the reeds or stumps or limbs where the bass like to stay. For me there is something a bit Zen-like in the moment, getting into a rhythm, dropping the lure in just in the right spot. Recently I have said I would like to learn how to fly fish, it too looks a bit Zen-like, with the smooth motions and accurate casts. I asked once when taking Tai Chi classes if we could develop a fishing posture and move, it seems only natural to me.

We had a really good outing that day and caught quite a mess of fish, although for me fishing is the most important part and catching is just a bonus. Toward the end of our time on the water as the sun was setting on the horizon and the oranges and purples were streaming through the trees I sat my pole down in the boat and paused. I sat there and just soaked in the beauty of the evening, a cool breeze, the brilliant color, the glassy water, and the sounds of birds and other critters in the tall cattails around us. I just sat and tried to truly be in the moment.

You know, even when we are relaxing doing the things we love to do, even when what we are doing is filling our cup and renewing our spirit, it is good to stop and simply be in the moment. Jesus knew how to do that well, in our current sermon series I have come to know Buddha knew well how to simply be, it is good practice, it is good medicine. Take some time this week to set down your heavy load, or even pause in your play and relaxation and be.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.