Last Thursday evening, I attended an event at our church billed as “Real Talk.” The event was aimed at getting us to share in small groups about the ways in which we’ve ‘experienced God’ in the last few years. The conversations were rich and moving as person after person gave voice to their encounter with the Divine Presence.
As the evening drew to a close, we were given small stones and asked to write one word naming what we hoped to experience even more of in the coming years. We then laid the stones gently on the table, making an ‘altar’ of sorts…naming both how we have experienced—and hope to experience God. I wrote the word “singing.”
There are some Sundays, after an intense week at the hospital, that I arrive at church needing to lean on someone else to have faith…to believe God really is in our midst and at work in the world around us. And then, as the we stand and raise our voices in song—I am often moved to tears at the beauty of the sound—and reminded that yes, I do in fact believe…believe in God, believe God loves us, believe God is present even in the midst of all we see daily here at the hospital.
So, I placed my stone among the others, heard countless words called out, and felt immensely grateful to be a part of such a community of people who share with each other in ways that keep us connected to each other and to God.
As the service ended, the staff of our church read a poem by Carrie Newcomer—taken from her new book, “A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays.” I share the poem here as this week’s reflection:
You – are holy
and utterly unique.
There are gifts you were born to give.
Songs you were born to sing.
Stories you were born to tell.
And if you do not give it,
The world will simply lose it.
It is yours alone to offer,
No one can give it for you.
Listen! Because this is important,
This wounded world
Needs all the songs we can pull from the air,
Every story that helps us to remember.
It needs every single gift,
Large and small.
And yes, this grateful world does rejoice
Every courageous time
We are true to ourselves and to our gifts.
And so it is…we embrace the song
And the story and all our gifts
Because the world has such great need
And because the world exceedingly rejoices
And because there is no sadder thing
Than to leave this world
Having never really shown up.
Bob G. Cunningham