My spiritual resources come from every part of my life. Lots of books, recovery literature, movies, seminars, talks I’ve heard, talks I’ve given, conversations I’m a part of, conversations overheard, being in nature, snippets of scenes in other people’s lives, and the gazillion connections from online sites.
One source has been a simple but lasting connection. In 2007 I reconnected with my childhood church. I don’t remember how it first happened that I received a Tower Chimes newsletter via snail mail. I hadn’t attended the Community Presbyterian Church of Merrick since I graduated from Wagner College in 1969. But as with many things, the beginning isn’t the key element. It’s what you do after that “beginning” that guides the path.
I looked forward to receiving the Tower Chimes, or the Sunday bulletin. Then the change to emails. Now Facebook and YouTube. Reading about the Couples Club, garage sales, bake sales, Easter and Christmas flowers gives me a sense of community even 2500 miles away here in Tucson.
Reading the newsletter sometimes sparked reminiscing with my twin sister, with my husband, and with friends. Did you go to Sunday School? What about getting Christmas gifts from “Santa”? We knew it really was Mr. Bolander, but he was so smiley and jolly you could almost believe he was a specially chosen rep from the North Pole. Teenage years playing volleyball in the church hall on Sunday evenings, square dancing with my dad at a family night dinner, and going on retreats with the Junior High youth group. Yes, it was the days when we graduated from 6th grade and went to Merrick Ave. Junior High, the training ground for Calhoun High School.
When my husband Hank and I took a Spring trip back East in 2014, we visited with Beverly Burke who took us on a tour through the church sanctuary, downstairs to the classrooms and to the gardens out back. It was so very different and so much the same. I always liked sitting in the sanctuary, often when no one was there. It was quiet and calm. I used to think quiet connecting had nothing to do with religion or spirituality. But if having a safe place for solitary thoughts, or sharing and connections with people is not a spiritual endeavor, what is?
This is an excerpt from the recent Bulletin that inspired me. I hope it may do the same for you.
From the October 3, 2021 bulletin:
Drawn In Week 4 “Listening” is an important part of Love. We open our senses to see what is emerging. Perhaps what we start doesn’t end up looking like what we thought it would. Instead, once the act of loving begins, we listen to how the Spirit is guiding our next steps and unfolding possibilities we were previously unaware of. –the Rev. Moira Ahearne, Pastor
My takeaway here was to listen-opening my senses for that day. With that kind of listening I read the words silently-several times, then read them out loud. Moving to other senses sat on my patio, looked and listened to the birds, our little waterfall, the very slight breeze in the leaves of the mesquite trees. My intention was to listen to people that day without planning a response. Not easy. Sometimes I did, sometimes. Sometimes my reply was immediately lining up, pushing up against my vocal cords. But when I did listen -to the words, the tone, the pace, opening all my senses, with no thought of a response, it was just the easiest and most relaxing conversation.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a mic.