As I sit and look around my office each different thing my eyes fall on lead me into a new story. The Buddhist prayer flags over my window encourage thoughts of blowing flags in the Himalayas carrying thought and prayers skyward for legions of people seeking to follow the fourfold path. On the opposite wall is a photo I took of a lobster man’s dinghy waiting the next opportunity to check his pots. Directly above my head is a photo collage of the Peace Pole that is out in front of Hope Church, and directly behind me is the closet with my stoles, symbols of being yoked in ministry, as an ox is yoked in servitude. Each item, along with a number of others, is a symbol of the task summed up in the words of the prophet Micah; . . . do justice, love kindness, walk humbly.
The flags, though not a Christian tradition, remind me and all of us, to enter into a meditative and thoughtful position of prayer. We are reminded to reflect on our fellow human beings and we are urged to a time of reflection considering the plight of the other. Prayer is a universal tool for entering into communication with the sacred or to meditatively prepare our hearts for contact with our God. Our God, which I sometimes refer to simply as, That Which We Worship, the center of our sense of the sacred, or the whole of our being is manifested when we are in community. Find one another and find yourself.
The dinghy could be a reminder of many things, our daily task, our effort to keep bread on the table, or the simple task of sojourning in the world alone. The boat with one set of oars, one narrow bench seat, one rope with which to tie it to the buoy; is part of one man’s daily task. The lobster man sets his pots, puts some bait into them, drops them back to the sea floor and moves along to the next one, checking each one again in a few days as he considers the quirks of nature that control his fate. For me the dinghy reminds me to slow down, take some time alone once in a while and enter into a time of reflection and solitude. Our life’s path is not mandated but is a choice and we put the oars to the water and move ourselves. Sometimes the currents can take us a bit off track but it is our own work, our own effort, and our own good sense that keeps the bow pointed in the right direction.
The peace pole sits outside of church, the photo collage a reminder inside of what we work towards on the outside. At Hope church we do strive to bring peace to others in many ways. As volunteers throughout the county, members of hope Church are involved in a myriad of activities. Here, and in settings of the church where the United Church of Christ is represented, we are part of a movement of progressive Christians seeking to offer acceptance of all god’s people. We don’t care who, or what, or when the sacred is revealed to you, we care about finding the path on which to seek a better life, a life of acceptance and service, a life that leads all people to peaceful coexistence.
I watched an old episode of The Donna Reed Show the other morning while working out. The family had gone to visit some country friends out on a farm. While there an old horse they had just decided to quit living. It lay down and gave up. The family waited and told the story of how it had been a mighty work horse in its day, put in the harness it would pull all day and never give up. That old horse literally lived to work. Now that they had a tractor, the horse wasn’t needed. When one of the people in the horse’s stall jangled the bells on the harness the old horse perked up and tried to stand. When the bells were jangled again the horse stood. The horse was reminded of the days in the harness and wanted to go pull something again. As Clergy we are yoked into service and serve because of a longing to serve others compassionately. The stoles are a reminder of the yoke.
I live to serve the people of Hope and love doing so.
Another symbol in my office contains the words from Micah, “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.”