Trust the Magic of Beginnings

One month ago today was my final worship service at Plymouth prior to retirement. I was surrounded by family and friends, and it was a powerful experience – the conclusion of 40 years of ministry. It’s only been a month but already it feels like another lifetime. This next chapter is only beginning to unfold, and I really have no idea what comes next, but so far it feels good and right and true. In the words of Meister Eckhart, “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” And so I continue to remind myself that I am on a sacred journey, accompanied by the ongoing presence of Spirit. It will unfold in amazing ways, and all I need to do is show up and stay present in each moment. That should be enough to keep me busy.

Celebrating the Uniqueness of Each Moment

My life has been in transition for a while now (retirement, a big birthday, moving, etc). But the truth is that we are always in transition, because life is never static. 

As we slowly emerge from a year and a half of pandemic shut down and upheaval, I hear lots of talk about all the changes and all of the ways in which life will never be the same again. But then today I heard a discussion on NPR where the question was asked, “What if we used this time to explore the exciting new possibilities that are emerging in the wake of all this change?” Absolutely mourn the practices and traditions and experiences which have been lost. But also let us remember that there is always more which is yet to come. 

The poet Denise Levertov spoke to this in her poem “Only Once”:
“All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we’d do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every invitation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did happen in our lives, our stories 
are not drab with its absence: but don’t
expect to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body-halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.”

Every moment, every experience is unique. It not only won’t be repeated, it can’t be repeated. But just because we won’t ever again experience that wonderful moment doesn’t mean we will never again have wonderful moments. They will simply be new and unique. 

So, let us celebrate all that has gone before, and then let us step boldly into the great mystery of what comes next, trusting that it will be something we cannot even imagine, because it has never before in the whole history of the world been experienced. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating. 

The Gift of Each Moment

At the edge of the mountain a mama deer and her triplet offspring have been hanging out for a couple of weeks. I’ve seen them several times on my morning hikes. Today I’m standing on a ridge watching them in the field below me. Mama is munching on the grass, the sound rising to meet my ears. Then, one by one, the triplets emerge from the trees. The first one makes its way to mama’s side, where it starts to feed while the maternal doe quietly lowers her head to nuzzle the fawn. Meanwhile, the other two bound across the open space, leaping and bouncing with utter abandon. This ordinary, extraordinary, magical scene unfolds, with me the only witness – a priceless gift that feeds my soul and leaves me smiling. In this one holy and sacred moment time stands still, and I remember that I am connected with the whole Universe. And then the moment has passed, but the lesson lingers. With a grateful nod to Mary Oliver (The Summer Day), this is what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life!