Looking Back and Ahead

Looking Back and Ahead

Rosanne and I are spending Thanksgiving at our upstate home. Our house is an old farmhouse, nearly two hundred years old. It seems an appropriate place for Thanksgiving dinner. In our fast-paced and over-stimulated world, there is some solace in remembering simpler times which existed more in harmony with the natural rhythms of nature. I love Thanksgiving because it invites us to enjoy the gifts of hearth and home. The past can be a source of inspiration and renewal.

Advent and Christmas also bring to mind and heart memories of celebration and relationships. Sometimes our memories drive us toward rather heroic efforts to reclaim such times for ourselves and loved ones. For me, they draw me back to the central mysteries and heart-opening truths of the Christian story. How I need to be reminded of the marriage between flesh and spirit, the human and divine.

I find that the looking back also draws me to a looking ahead. There is much in our present reality that needs deep reform. Remembering how the Spirit touched us and inspired us in our ritual celebrations of the past can encourage us to bring such spiritual energy and direction to the challenges which lie before us. Something in us, previously touched by the Spirit, knows that we have the resources we need to face and to create a more hopeful future. Dig deep in this holy season of the year for the spiritual energy we need for this moment.

Of course, in this coming year, I will be looking back at thirty-seven years of ministry and looking ahead to an unknown, at least to me, journey of retirement. What will Rosanne and I do with this blank slate? We have some ideas, but it is still a journey into the unknown. The same applies to the church. There is the past and the unknown future. God is in it all.

The mystics and contemplatives tell us that the key is to be deeply present to the present moment, which is always where the divine meets the human, if only we are awake enough to perceive. That’s the spiritual practice—present moment awareness and receptivity. When we catch ourselves drifting away or in an energy of reactivity, we can always pause, breathe, and start over. If we do, we’ll find that God is always there, always meeting and supporting us. The circumstances may not be to our liking, but filled with God’s presence, we find what we need for living and loving. May that presence fill us in these blessed days ahead!

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