Dear friends, 

What is your mission? This past Sunday was Mission Sunday and our speaker, Donna Stiglmeier, shared with us her experience as a lay missioner in Bolivia. Reflecting on her service prompts us to ask: “what is your mission?”  You

might have heard me (Ron) say that sometimes I have described my mission as “whetting people’s appetite for God.” And in our hospital context, serving as multi-faith chaplains that might be expanded to “whetting people’s appetites for meaning-making.” In Sunday’s Gospel, we see Zacchaeus hungry to see God.  It is wonder-full to me that in Luke’s Gospel, people are eager to see God.  When Jesus is presented as an infant in the Temple, Simeon has been waiting all his life to see God and when he does, he prays, “Now, Lord, you can let your servant go in peace…” Mary and Martha and Lazarus are special friends of Jesus and Mary longs to sit at his feet and contemplate his words. There are many more instances of this theme eager to see God.  Jean and I had a parallel experience last week when we went to be part of the rally for Hillary in Manchester. After waiting in line for about an hour, we were about 30 people away from getting into the rally area when security closed the gates. In the ensuing moments we tried all around the stadium to find a spot to get a glimpse of Hillary.  Finally, a sympathetic policeman told us if we looked down this narrow pathway, we would see Hillary in her bright blue coat when she left the stadium. We did and when she came out, we shouted her name and she turned and waved. Now we’re not in any way suggesting that glimpsing Hillary Clinton is akin to glimpsing God… but it gave us a taste of the seeking and searching for one we are curious about!

I grew up in the seminary on the theology of Thomas Aquinas which was very rational, intellectual. Bonaventure, the Franciscan and his pupil Duns Scotus had a different approach. Bonaventure says that true knowledge is not found in book learning or information. Rather, it comes from the life of the spirit, a matter of the heart.  He says that the contemplative theologian is “a treasure hunter, a seeker after pearls, one who fathoms the depths of divine mystery, searching out the inmost hiding places and revealing its most beautiful jewels.” He states that the contemplative theologian seeks out the depths of God so as to orient her/his life to encountering God and becoming united in love. Love discloses God. 

Love discloses God. That is a morsel to chew on. It reminds me of the line in the First Letter of John that says that the one who loves like God loves comes to know who God is. Bonaventure goes on to say that knowing God (with the heart—which is the only way) is transformative and performative. One loves in the world like God loves. I accessed all of this in reading Ilia Delio who says that one who seeks the truth becomes a revealer of the truth through a life well-lived. One comes to love God by loving one’s neighbor, the earth, oneself, the whole cosmos. 

One challenge to us today in this divided political climate is how do we not write off the other side. Bill Clinton said something that really spoke to my heart. He said that after this election, no matter who wins, there is going to have to be a lot of bridge-building, a lot of reaching out to heal. For instance, it seems to me that those who support Trump are feeling unseen, un-listened to, uncared for in our present system. How can we include in our circle of care even those who think differently?

Our striving to see God brings to mind this Blessing from Jan Richardson:

Blessing at the Burning Bush

You will have to decide
if you want this—
want the blessing
that comes to you
on an ordinary day
when you are minding
your own path,
bent on the task before you
that you have done
a hundred times,
a thousand.

You will have to choose
for yourself
whether you will attend
to the signs,
whether you will open your eyes
to the searing light, the heat,
whether you will open
your ears, your heart
to the voice
that knows your name,
that tells you this place
where you stand—
this ground so familiar
and therefore unregarded—
is, in fact,

You will have to discern
whether you have
defenses enough
to rebuff the call,
excuses sufficient
to withstand the pull
of what blazes before you;
whether you will
hide your face,
will turn away
back toward—
what, exactly?

No path from here
could ever be
ordinary again,
could ever become
unstrange to you
whose seeing
has been scorched
beyond all salving.

You will know your path
not by how it shines
before you
but by how it burns
within you,
leaving you whole
as you go from here
blazing with
your inarticulate,
your inescapable
yes.                           © Jan Richardson

At The Spirit of Life, our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world. We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey. We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life.

With loving blessings,

Ron & Jean