Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and here we are in the ever-surprisingly-timed winter weather in the Hill Country! It’s been almost a year since we were last together, can you believe? I have been missing you so much! One of the reasons I have always loved my work is the engagement with people that I serve. And by this, I mean that I miss the physical engagement. We have had illnesses, deaths, births, and other crises. I’ve missed being with you through these passages of life. I’ve missed our being together to mourn and celebrate with each other. It is important for us to have rituals and ceremonies to mark important events. It is vital to human nature.
I was reminiscing about the physicality of the sights, sounds, and aromas of our potlucks. I was remembering the perfectly elevated energy of our sharing in Wednesday night classes. When I speak in the sanctuary on Sundays, part of my attention is still alert for a comment from one of the Jims: Beal or Bishop. Now that they have moved on from this life, everything feels indelibly changed.
And yet, I am hopeful about the positive changes that this long isolation from each other has brought about. As I said in my Midday Reflection last Thursday, we have had a difficult year with a light---very far away still---at the end of the tunnel. Because this has been extraordinarily unlike anything in our lifetimes, it is also an exciting opportunity to reshape societal and spiritual behaviors for the new world that awaits us. We don’t know what it will look like, and that’s okay! Despite our (insistent) adherence to what seems familiar, we may never recapture what was before. Instead, we will form something brand new. My guess is that we will be less likely to take things for granted. We will be more respectful of each other’s personal space. We might use fewer words to communicate. We will remember each other’s wounds and joys, and our honoring will have a depth and compassion that originates from the deep silence we might have discovered over all this time. This will require us to be more mindful and present, more yielding to the mystery. If we are not careful, we will fall into the habit of trying to re-create our idea of the “perfect” past, and then miss the perfect now.
But anyway---I still miss you very much! Absence has indeed made the heart grow fonder, if that’s possible, because I was pretty darned fond already! I hold you in my heart. I speak on Sundays as if you were there. I fan the flame of eternal love for our community, always.