Experiencing A Divine Presence in Community

I am grateful that I have been introduced to two communities in which I have begun to feel the freedom to explore and share how my faith is evolving into a more universal appreciation of creation. In addition to my roots of Christianity  I am finding a depth of spiritual experiences in my soul as I explore Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. 

Each of these groups are contemplative in nature and I am finding community here to help form me and allow me to grow and share.

One group is a weekly Tuesday morning Centering Prayer (thttps://www.facebook.com/kindredproject/) group, led by dear friends of the Spirit. Another is my weekly Shabbat/Mindfulness group lead by my Rabbi.  A third weekly group is one in which I belonged to while I was the pastor in Scottsville and Esmont for many years. It was and is a breakfast clergy group consisting of Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, and Presbyterian clergy. These groups are my spiritual ‘oasis’. In each of these groups a community has been formed and continues to form me and I suspect others. Each of these groups has been meeting via Zoom since the virus met us.  

Each of these community gatherings generate conversation and dialog which beckons me to liminal spaces, transitions, thresholds and heartfelt thoughts and striving for me and others. The power of genuine community in conversation (I think John Wesley would say this was Holy conversation) is very vibrant and full of heart. Conversations such as these weave thoughts among the group. We feed one another as we strive to hear the Divine calling.  So, the following thoughts derive from these communities of people of goodwill and faith. I will specify, when possible what comes from which group.

God asked the angels to place the spark of the Divine into the world so that humans would know from where they have come. The angels talked among themselves. Not wanting humans to be as clever as angels one angel suggested to put the Divine Spark on the top of the highest mountain as human beings would not venture there. But an angel responded that human beings would be able to find it. Another angel responded that human beings would find it there as they are quite resourceful. Another angel suggested the Divine spark be at the bottom of the ocean. Nope, said another, humans are too resourceful and they will find it. Finally, after much deliberation among the angels reluctant to share with humans, a wise angel spoke up – we shall put the Divine spark inside their hearts. They will not look there! (This is my rendition of the story that Rabbi Mark told our group one morning. Any errors are mine)

It seems to me that most of us only glimpse what is in our hearts. The wise angel was wise and cunning. We may be resourceful on the outside, but it seems our resourcefulness may not be so readily willing or aware of looking inside our hearts.

These communal conversations among kindred spirits generate (through the heart which listens to the Divine) words which are hungry to speak to us.  Each of these words express a depth of spirit should we take the time to explore.

Curiosity Imagination Wonder Adventure Depth Ponder Darkness Leap Be still Love Wait/patience Transition Womb Tomb Grateful Yes Means of Grace Metaphor Connection Yearning

Can you think of other words which deepen our awareness of the Spirit and Community?

Our Wednesday morning breakfast group’s conversation led us to wonder about wandering in the desert – the Israelites were remarkably close geographically to the ‘promised land’ yet remained in the desert wandering around for 40 years! Were they ready to enter the ‘promised land’ prior to that? Did they need these 40 years to experience God in their hearts? They spent their time in rebellion against God, searching, repenting, doubting, searching for God, for their life’s purpose. (Breakfast clergy group)

Are we ‘ready’ to enter the ‘promised land’, the Kingdom of God here on earth? or do we need more conversation, dialog, repenting, honesty, sharing of vulnerabilities, searching for depth of heart, hearing the Divine, searching for community? Am I ready?

We and I may need our (my) own desert experiences. To live and grow for a while in this ‘way station’, our (my) own oasis of transition, revival, re-freshment.

Breathe. Oh how I endeavor to do so and yet falter during parts of each day!!

Shalom to all. May peace be with you this day and all days.

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