Leave this time and place better than you found it.

“Do the best you can, until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

“Sit. Be still and listen. For you are drunk, and we are on the edge of the roof.” – Rumi

“Pursue justice and justice alone.  For only then may you live fully in the land God has provided you.” – Deuteronomy 16:20

When my uncle used to take me out camping, he would always pick a spot away from the usual campsites. We’d hike further into the mountain or deeper into the woods. He said it was so we could truly be present to the larger world we live in, and that meant going into the unknown.

It was usually pretty uncomfortable for me, and not just sleeping on the hard ground. But this place was the wild, where the wild things were. I’d ask, “Are there bears out here?”

He’d say, “Well, we’re in the woods. And bears live in the woods. But deer, and raccoons, and skunks live here, too. Best if you do more listening than talking, and observing than making a lot of noise. You’ll learn a lot more that way.”

Then when we’d break down camp the next day or so, he’d always say, “Remember, we always want to leave the place better than we found it.”

Pandemics and parables remind us that we are always in an unknown time – a wild time. But we are also discovering there is a way through this time that is grounded in a reality greater than our own unknowing. Greater than our own fear. A reality grounded in love and attentiveness. So, maybe the question for us becomes: How can we leave this place – this time – better than we found it?

For the past 5 or 6 weeks, Rev Linda McDermott and I have been exploring the way the Jesus’ parables confound our knowing and disrupt our status quo. And, of course, we are exploring this pattern of Jesus’ teaching in the context of our own dysfunctional, racist, and disparaging reality. Just as Jesus used them in his time to draw his listeners back onto the path of God’s kin-dom of Shalom.

This Sunday, Linda and I are going to conclude our series with a special look at where we’ve been and what these parables offer, as the next steps on the path of Shalom, in a time of systemic dysfunction and pandemic anxiety.

I hope you can join Linda, Charme, and me online at one of the links below. Brad and the band will join in with music of Michael Franti and Lenny Kravitz. See you then.

Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven

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Crafting Difficult Conversations

Weekly on Mondays | 7:00 pm – 7:45 pm

Having trouble knowing how to talk about issues of race, sexuality, or climate change? Do you find it difficult to know where to start with the issues that are front and center for us all right now? Maybe you’re afraid to say anything for fear of looking foolish, or offensive, or even racist?

You want to be engaged with others, but what’s the best approach for joining – or starting – these conversations? (It’s difficult) but these conversations must be crafted with compassion and thoughtful intent.

Join Darryl Parker, member of FUMCFW, Data Scientist, and mindfulness expert, and our own Rev. Tom McDermott as they facilitate conversations around the difficult themes of our day and offer techniques and practices for creating a safe space for healthy conversation.

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