At the first sign of a blizzard, those farmers “would run a rope from the back door of their house out to the barn.” They did this because they had heard the stories of people – sometimes their neighbors – “who had wandered off and been frozen to death, having lost sight of home in a whiteout while still in their own backyards” (Parker Palmer). They knew they would have to go out – there were critters in the barn that required their attention – they could not shirk the responsibilities of care. They knew they’d have to venture out into a world in which they could lose sight of home. Hence, the rope.
We don’t face anything like that kind of blizzard. We face blizzards of another sort, as Parker Palmer notes.
“It swirls around us as economic injustice, ecological pain, physical and spiritual violence, and their inevitable outcome, war. It swirls within us as fear and frenzy, greed and deceit, and indifference to the suffering of others. We all know stories of people who have wandered off into this madness and been separated from their own souls, losing their moral bearings and even their mortal lives. The lost ones come from every walk of life: clergy and corporate executives, politicians and people on the street, celebrities and school children. Some us us fear that we, or those we love, will become lost in the storm. Some of us are lost at this moment and are trying to find our way home. Some are lost without knowing it. Some of us have just reached for the rope. Others are in the middle of the journey trying to keep hold of our grip. Others have just arrived home. My own experience of the blizzard, which includes getting lost in it more often than I like to admit, tells me that the soul’s order and life’s hope can never be destroyed, but only obscured. By the common compassion of friends, that rope is always close at hand, . . . offering, time after time, the chance to regain our bearings . . . and find our way home again.” (Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness)In the blizzard of busy-ness, we can get lost in our own backyard, lose sight of the way back home. Friends along the path can be our rope, our lifeline, helping us find our way out to do the service that is ours to do, helping us find our way back home again, helping us understand the ropes of life, so we don’t get lost even when they aren’t there.
The prospectus for "Journey Groups" at Community Unitarian Church describes the plan for launching small group ministry. Check it out (CLICK HERE). We have to do this because our mission is to nurture each other’s spiritual journeys and foster compassion and understanding. Each group needs a facilitator. The facilitators will start meeting with me this spring, training ourselves to be ready to begin our groups in September.
We are all struggling to find our ways home -- to what we care most deeply about and who we most want to be. Preaching isn’t enough. At least, mine isn’t. I wish it were. You need more than what I can give you. You need what you can give each other.
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This is part 4 of 4 of "Friends Along the Path"
Previous: Part 3: Gotta Have Group
Beginning: Part 1: Nurturing Perfection