Thursday, November 13, 2014

Called to Tranformation

I hesitated stepping through the door of the old temple in Mysore India.  I was twelve years old at the time, the air was hot and humid, the smell of dung and incense thick enough to almost see. I hesitated as if some unknown force was holding my shoulder; there was something very powerful beyond this door, something perhaps I did not want to see. It was so overwhelming I can feel it still.  I swallowed my fear and stepped in.  It took a few moments to adjust to the darkness of the unlit ruin.  No longer home to Brahmins and bulls but monkeys and mangrove leaves.  The carvings of Shiva, Ganesh, Sita, Rama all stared down at me.  I walk into the next room and knew before I stepped in what I would see there, and then the next, and the next, each time knowing before seeing what was beyond the corner.  I started to race through the rooms, feelings of joy and sadness, knowing each corner before I turned to it.  And then I knew it was time to get out of there.  Breathless, I stepped back into the bright sun.  I ran to find my mother.  She was outside. I tried to explain to her that I had been in this temple before, not as this boy but before.  She smiled and silently thought I needed psychiatric help. 
Perhaps I did.  Crossing that threshold moved me in several ways; the first was to confirm for me later my belief in re-incarnation.  The foreknowledge was so strong that I had to have been there before.  But my personal belief in re-incarnation is a post for another day.  Perhaps even more importantly, that earliest religious experience led me eventually to enter our ministry.  I have been following a calling to the religious life ever since; the worn wooden threshold of my first business, the oak transoms of our first house, the worn marble of my first church, the bright finish of a new door in our new church building in Frederick, MD, the familiar chalice mats of our own sacred ground here at Pacific Unitarian Church.  Crossing any threshold is an act of transformation in courage and hope.  And I am so deeply blessed to have been transformed by so many.  And I invite you into that transformation today.

My entire ministry can be summed up in that one word:  Transformation.  My calling as a minister is to transform congregations into beloved communities of hope and action.  My calling is simple.  It’s the work that takes a bit more time.  Because transformation is something we all think we need but few really want.  It’s scary and hard and dangerous. And its some of the most important work we will ever do.  How are you called to transformation?

With Grace and Grit, John