I saw four clients today for pastoral counseling or spiritual direction. One after another this afternoon, and then an amazing conversation with a parishioner at dinner. What a day. What incredible gifts I received from each of them.
The parishioner at dinner tonight spoke of what being a Christian means to her--an aspect of it, that is. She was raised in the church, can quote Scripture with the best of 'em, was baptized and followed all the rules (well, most of them, anyway, she says). But one day she opened herself to a relationship with God, and suddenly everything was fresh. New and fresh. She said she comes out of a worship service and is so alive, so grateful for the amazing message and the deep meaning of the Lord's Supper, still singing the last hymn in her heart. (This made me laugh--She remarked that she comes out of this worship service and into the narthex and is always SO surprised when she hears someone else make some inane, negative, stupid remark, as she puts it. Where have they been the last hour? she wonders.)
It occurs to me that it takes courage to open yourself to a relationship with God such that life is experienced as new and fresh. The status quo is always safer, after all.
But the Spirit is the enemy of the status quo, I think. The Spirit is always nudging us toward--I love the way she put this: toward what is fresh and new. Fresh! And, importantly, when we are open to what is novel we are also putting our trust in God, for not everything fresh and new is good. We trust that whatever newness we encounter we can handle, with God's grace and love at our side.
These four clients, as well as my parishioner dinner companion, have all encountered some terrible pain and heartache as they journeyed forward. But they are all making a courageous decision to stay open to life, open to what is fresh and new, open to learning to trust that God wants them to flourish and will always be there to sustain them with the courage and grace they need.
What an amazing thing it is to be a minister.