God of darkness and God of light. At the beginning of time you breathed out stars into the heavens, and with the hand of a master artist you made sure each one was in its right place.
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Wisdom for the Way
In his book, Returning from Camino, Alexander Shaia explains that the advertised destination of any given pilgrimage is not the end but the turning around point, and it is only through the long process of returning to walk the ways of the mundane and usual that the work of pilgrimage is brought to fruition.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…
In the beginning.
The beginning is a starting place. It is the sunrise over a day that has not yet seen the rust and wear of the afternoon. It is a new chance to live. It is a place to choose, once again, who you will be. Whom you will serve. Whom you will allow to be your teacher.
One night, about a week ago, black bears all over Asheville plotted, conspired, and rampaged this city in the mountains. It was the first chilly evening of the fall and it signaled the beginning of a season which leads to many bear-human interactions. Car alarms were set off, trash bins turned over, refuse scattered everywhere, and graves dug up.
It was a beautiful morning in the early autumn. Several folks had gathered at the community garden to enjoy the fruits of the sweet potato crop. Up walks Joseph, listing a bit and slurring his speech. I had never met him before. He began talking to anyone who would listen, telling us which nearby bridge was his temporary shelter.
The Bethesda UMC congregation in East Asheville, North Carolina, recently returned to their sanctuary after being located next door in the retreat house/parsonage for over two years. The newly remodeled space, now available for a variety of uses throughout the week through Haw Creek Commons, went through several unexpected delays, otherwise the small congregation would have sought temporary arrangements elsewhere.
Growing up in America in a middle-class white household I always felt safe. I was so naïve and truly didn’t understand there were others that didn’t experience the same things I did daily: go to school and get educated; come home to a decent sized home where both of my parents were waiting; get help with my homework; eat dinner; go to sleep in my warm and clean bed—repeat the next day. Although my parents taught us about responsibility, hard-work, and respecting others, I was never truly put in a situation where I felt unsafe or needed to be brave.
Once there was a group of people. These people lived long ago, and, therefore, far away, but they were not so different from you and me. They loved, hoped, ate, and bickered. They had been following a great leader, but he had left them. They had been instructed to wait, and, like so many who wait, they did so fretfully.
We will be in the middle of a deep conversation, or a story, and suddenly she is silent. No more talking, no more footsteps. I look back only to find her crouched down looking at the smallest mushroom with the most vibrant purple hue. “I should have been a mycologist," she says, looking at me with the utmost sincerity.