Brian Wilcox. "View Toward Katadhin - 'Great Mountain'"
Spiritually, we do not simply give our spiritual gifts or talents to the world. What we give is how we give ourselves. Who we are is one with the gift given, an extension of our heart in which we lose nothing, but find an enlargement of Life in the transactions of Generosity in which the self is shared but not lost.
* * *
The late Fred Rogers, of the television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, took classes in preaching during his seminary studies. Later, he spoke of a turning point in his life that occurred during that time:
Years ago my wife and I were worshiping in a little church with friends of ours. We were on vacation, and I was in the middle of my homiletics [preaching] course at the time. During the sermon I kept ticking off every mistake I thought the preacher – he must have been eighty years old – was making. When this interminable sermon finally ended, I turned to one of my friends, intending to say something critical about the sermon. I stopped myself when I saw the tears running down her face. She whispered to me, "He said exactly what I needed to hear." That was really a seminal experience for me. I was judging and she was needing, and the Holy Spirit can work through even the most faulty instrument.
* * *
You store diamonds
in your heart?
Bring them out and
to hang such beauty
on the neck of the world
Take each one and speak blessing
over it and join it
with the rest
Do not withhold from fear of how
others will judge your gift
Consecrate good intention
with surrendered action -
in this way, serve in Love
Do not compare your gift to others
or judge that of another -
this is the way of humble, wise servants -
let your heart welcome this joyful duty -
Giving from the graces given you
opens in the heart a place
to commune with the Friend
and brings a little more healing
to the world
*The Joyful Duty. April 12, 2010.
* * *
I visited a church for the first time, seeking one to attend regularly. Entering, the people welcomed me warmly, and I sat down. I felt enthusiasm initially, a strong sense of comfort and blessing.
Soon, I began to see the worship was not to my preference. Being a contemplative, prone to quiet, I felt bombarded by many words. I sat bored and agitated and was glad to see the meeting end.
I walked through the rain back to my truck, got in, and prayed with gratitude. I was thankful to have been there. I felt gifted to see others blessed by the talents offered there that morning.
It dawned on me the following day, some years before I would have left critical of the way they had worshipped. Instead, the day prior, I had left appreciative. How they worshiped was their way, and that was okay; in fact, it was wonderful.
The change in response indicated something in me had changed, and more than I had been aware. The path of Silence I had followed had been opening my heart to be more loving, more insightful for being able to discern better how Spirit manifests in widely different ways, including some I would not choose to be a part of.
* * *
Prayerful intimacy with the Beloved silently transforms the unlove within us into Love. Over time, we see how we respond more graciously to what before would have led to an ungracious response. In observing others and ourselves, we see how Spirit in diverse ways creates spaces to love and be loved in return. We become more fearless, humbly so, in offering ourselves through our graces, as we become more appreciative of how others do the same. This diversity no longer threatens us, but is a cause of celebration.
* * *
*Story of Fred Rogers is attributed to author Lisa Belcher-Hamilton.
*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020