Monthly Archives: September 2015

Salty and bright

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I was reading the Gospel of Matthew a couple of days ago, and read the passage where Jesus says “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” (Matt 5:13, 14)

Somehow I had always associated those words with the end of Jesus’ ministry, and assumed he was talking to his closest friends, the disciples who were about to start the Church.

But, according to the chronology of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus speaks these words to a large crowd of folks during his Sermon on the Mount, right at the beginning of his ministry. Matthew, the author of the gospel, hadn’t even been called by Jesus yet!

Jesus had just finished healing a large number of people who had been afflicted with all sorts of diseases and struggles that would have left them on the margins of society. Matthew writes that these folks followed Jesus, and we can assume that they made up a large portion of the crowd to which Jesus was speaking. He started his sermon with the Beatitudes, proclaiming that the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the peacemakers, the persecuted were the most blessed in the Kingdom.

And then, immediately after healing people who had experienced deep pain and marginalization, and telling them that they were The Blessed Ones, he tells them that they are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. He tells them not to lose their saltiness, or hide their light.

In my experience in communities like The Dale and Sanctuary, it is absolutely true that folks who have suffered the most are the saltiest and brightest.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who is wonderfully wise, and struggles mightily with an addiction to alcohol. She said to me, “I’m so weak…but His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He’s blessed me with nice people like you and Erinn, and I turn my back. But He never turns his back on me… I think about you a lot, you know. How is your family doing?”

A week or so later, I was speaking with another friend who is in chronic pain and struggles to make ends meet. At first he was focused on his pain, but then transitioned into an amazing mini-sermon about how it all comes down to love, how we need to listen to God even when it hurts, how it’s important to be a giver not just a taker, and how we need to learn to see the good in other people even when it’s not readily visible.

Another friend adopted a cat many years ago who wasn’t expected to live for very long, due to a variety of ailments. My friend has cared tenderly for this cat that would likely have otherwise been put down. He sat cuddling his beloved pet the other day, and the image was too beautiful not to capture. He told me I could share it with you.

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While Jesus is the ultimate Salt and Light, he makes it pretty clear (all throughout the gospels) that people on the margins are uniquely blessed with the ability to display his saltiness and brightness. I am so grateful for my friends who are constantly reminding me of this deep theological truth.

Well cared for

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A lot has happened since I last blogged! August really got away on me; a familiar feeling, I’m sure.

As I wrote last time, Erinn was away for a few weeks. As I trusted would be the case, I was very well supported while she was gone. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

In my blog I wrote about how the community “has my back”, and this was literally and figuratively true. During one of the (remarkably rare) conflicts between community members that may have become physical, I stepped between the two friends of mine who were experiencing tension. Another friend slid in just behind me, and we stood back to back, collaboratively diffusing the situation. This happened the very next day after I had blogged!

I was cared for in many such ways over the following weeks. Friends stepped in to help me lead music for our Sunday services. A core member of the community helped to clean one of the spaces we use by scrubbing a bunch of toilets and mopping the floor. A couple of friends from Sanctuary lent their support during a Monday meal drop-in.

Last week we closed The Dale so that both Erinn and I could be off at the same time. I was very well cared for during that week too. I enjoyed a bunch of meals with various friends, and spent a few days at a beautiful organic, off the grid farm that is owned and operated by friends/mentors/professors of mine. This is the same farm that has welcomed The Dale for a day-trip two years in a row now. I rested, worked in the garden, read, learned to make salsa, went for long walks in the woods, and shared delicious meals and fellowship.

A couple of days ago I managed to take a tumble, and banged myself up a bit. I received lots of immediate and follow-up care from the friends who witnessed or heard about my fall, for which I was/am very grateful. I arrived at drop-in a couple of days later, and as soon as I explained that I was pretty sore, folks from the community insisted that I take it easy and that they would “do whatever you usually do!”

I am so grateful for these ways in which I’ve been reminded, once again, that I am deeply blessed with wonderful communities of friends. Thank you to everyone who has been a conduit of God’s love over these past weeks!