I have awoken myself early this morning with the intent of beginning again my blog. I am aware that a preoccupation with perfection has kept me from writing — that I have been reluctant to write because of the sense I have that my words should be well chosen and clearly have something worth saying. I sense that my spirit has suffered from having lost the routine; my friend Bob suggested this connection a while back. And so here I am, my fingers typing away, trying not to worry so much about perfection. Again the question: for whom am I writing? Am I writing for those handful of readers who might go to the trouble to consider what I have to say here? Or am I writing for myself? Writing is communication, a means by which we make contact with others, so the answer that I am writing for others has some truth to it. But I realize that more fundamentally, I am writing for myself — in an attempt to unclog my soul, so to speakâ€¦ to give opportunity for unexpected words to come forth.There is, of course, the issue of self editing when it comes to a public blog. What is too personal for public consumption? Also, to what extent am I writing on behalf of the church as opposed to writing for myself? The blog does appear as a part of the PUMC website. And what about the vanity that writes for the sake of impressing — to be well thought of? These sorts of concerns will never be resolved, and yet I choose this day not to allow them to hold me back from the helpful process of putting down words to seek to express myself.
What to write about? Well, I can begin with the theme of what have I been up to lately, which most recently will emphasize the aspect of this blog serving the church, since my weekend was devoted to my pastoral ministry, being the annual HIV/AIDS retreat that I run. For years our church has sponsored this ministry. Up until last year the event was held at Aldersgate Center and was an open-ended family event. But Aldersgate burned down, and so for the past two years we”ve held the event at nearby Xavier Center, restricting it to adults only, and made it a more intentionally focused spiritual renewal retreat. We had about 18 persons there, mostly Black women from Jersey City, several of whom have been coming year after year. They carry heavier burdens than I know. They seem to greatly appreciate the opportunity to get away for a time and to open themselves up to God.
I decided this year to tell them the Gospel of Luke, beginning Friday evening with the birth of Jesus and concluding before lunch on Sunday with his death, resurrection and with Pentecost. We paused for discussion, sometimes fruitfully, sometimes not. Fatigue is a big issue for the folks who attend, and there always seemed a need for more rest time. But nonetheless, they seemed to really appreciate hearing the stories told in context. The parable of the prodigal son and elder brother in particular seemed to strike a chord, evoking much sharing about family dynamics and the struggle to know grace in our lives. I brought along my collection of drums and other percussion instruments, and we spent much time drumming. Particularly effective was the drumming we did at the conclusion of the story, bringing Jesus back to life as he lay in his tomb, and then drumming to give expression to the tongues of fire of Pentecost.
I found myself feeling less worn out than I used to feel after these retreats. The retreat was good for getting me out of my routines. I was glad to come home Sunday afternoon, and in the evening I enjoyed a hike up Tourne mountain with five teenage boys from our youth group and Bill and Amy their leaders. Again I told them Jesus stories, and we shared communion on the mountaintop. It didn’t rain, though it looked like it might, and we made it back before it got dark. (A couple of years ago my wife and son and I made the same hike and ended up hiking about two miles in the dark, having missed the turn back to the parking lot. We traipsed through peoples’ backyards — they weren’t pleased.)
Well, this is a start in regard to getting back on the horse of blogging. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.