Pastor's Comments

Pastors Comments

ALONG THE PATH
February 2019

The days are quite grey now; the air is fresh with a damp chill on some days. Leaves have fallen, a few remain on the limbs, occasionally dangling as if they want the last dance. Small finches suddenly light atop thin tree limbs declaring: "We just flew in to hang out, really wanting to check out the view." This morning I saw a small deer from our kitchen window, gently walking a path as if avoiding reservoir mud, seemingly not wanting to be noticed. In devotional reverence, I was reminded of the late Thomas Merton declaring how "God speaks in silence," which he may have observed within shadows and traces of light coming through the cracked, weathered boards of an old barn during the season of Epiphany. When you think about it, this short, seven-week liturgical season is perhaps the only one which gives hints of a view. Imagine Moses, his discovery held within the view of the promised land.

The late Carol Cawley, a friend and church member who died two years ago, used to tell me how she would keep an eye on me from her view across the reservoir. She lived on the other side of my view in the Coventry section of Yorktown. I assured her I would keep my eye on her too. A former school teacher, with a grandfather who was a Methodist minister, and having being raised in the country, she embraced my calling her "Butterbean." Even in her retirement, she was a great teacher for me. She had an ease about her, a great take on all perspectives, full of wit and wisdom, offering me grounded tips and insights without charge. She was a faithful and "devoted disciple" with unyielding attendance at worship services, one who dutifully served while sitting behind the desk at the food pantry. Her method was to take the names of the older children from our annual Angel Tree, purchasing them designer clothes and name brands, so they would gain a sense of fitting in with their peers at school. I miss the light from Carol.

In her book, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Anna Quindlen shares a delightful story of a teacher of sorts who came into her life on a random occasion. She writes: "I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island many years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless suffer in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amid the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides. But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now, even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them. And I asked him why. Why did't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for detox? And he stared out at the ocean and said: 'Look at the view, young lady, look at the view.'

In February, delegates from all over the world, representing different annual conferences will gather in St. Louis to worship, pray, debate, discuss and perhaps finally decide on what may likely become a new view or a different perspective for United Methodism at the Special Called Session of the General Conference. The opening session begins Feb. 23, the day before the last Sunday of Epiphany. It remains to be seen whether during this time, the definition of Epiphany is realized within a sudden flash of understanding or insight. Regardless of what shall or shall not be illuminated as a manifestation of Christ, through whatever decisions are made by the voting delegates, the view from our pews will be quite different.