Last Sunday I drove away from the Unity Church of Merritt Island in total bliss. Why? Because I had spent the whole morning being present to the thanks and praise of my dear friend, Rev. Rose Whitham. It was her last service and her retirement ceremony from thirteen years as the minister of that church and, interspersed with wonderful music, there was time for sharing. Person after person got up — many in tears — to say how much she had touched them, inspired them, and changed their lives. So many personal stories of healing and transformation and, simply, love. Love for my friend and for her love of them.
Two days later, I sat with my dad in his cozy den and we watched the Kennedy Center Honors, a program that celebrates “those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.” This year those honored were Linda Ronstadt, Sally Field, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sesame Street and Earth, Wind and Fire! Again, the stories, the tearful tributes, the heartfelt thanks, the incredible music, and the praise! I floated home on a river of love. Love for the creativity in people and their courage and commitment to art. Art that heals and makes life more beautiful. Art that deepens our humanity even while transporting us into numinous space.
A few weeks ago, over eight hundred people gathered for the third annual United In Thanksgiving. We were “folks of many faiths and philosophies” who came together into an experience of heartfelt oneness and delight in our diversity. By the end of the service, the Sanctuary was buzzing with conversations and new connections, and overflowing with joy and love. Love for the growing interfaith community here in our home town, love for the freedom we have to hold such a gathering, and love for the possibility, the vision of a kinder and more peaceful world.
Recently there was a birthday in my family, and over cake we did the traditional passing of the “talking fork” where each of us says something we love about the birthday person. In Native American cultures, when a talking stick goes around a circle, only the person holding the stick speaks, and this gives everyone present equal respect for their words and sharing. When we do this at birthday dinners (with a fork or spoon), it’s beautiful thing to hear what this special one means to all of us, to see these meaningful and often hilarious tributes received, and to witness the amazing energy flowing back and forth. I’ve heard stories at these celebrations that I never would have known otherwise and I always come away happy and grateful and more in love. Love for the traditions, and for these precious people.
A Blessing for Now and for the New Year:
May you find time in this season of change and hope, of darkness and light, to focus on what you love and why.
May you bask in old traditions, or create new ones in which to share your love.
May you be inspired to express your love in your own way, in your own songs of praise and gratitude … and may you know that every time you do, you are touching the hearts of all and lifting up the world.
~ Thank you ~