LauraRuth talked about moving up to Cambridge, MA, from the south side of Atlanta, GA, 21 years ago to go to seminary. She said her prayers were songs, one in particular about a whippoorwill. Well, Cambridge, MA, doesn't have whippoorwills. And she found that she could not pray in this strange land -- had to learn new songs. It was interesting to me to hear her story, because I tend to not connect to physical places in the way that lots of people do, and my relationship with God has always been something I carry around inside me.
She said some good stuff about neighborhoods which I now can't remember; and I sometimes felt like she was conflating "neighborhood" and "community," but I guess that's somewhat inevitable.
During Communion she said, "The gifts of God for the people of God," and I said, "Thanks be to God," 'cause I've gotten used to that sort of responsive from CWM (and possibly CHPC?) with readers often saying "The word of God for the people of God -- thanks be to God." But she wasn't expecting a responsive and so just kept talking, so I stopped myself and was like, "Sorry," and we laughed, and she was like, "Yes, thanks be to God."
In talking before and after service, she reiterated how glad she was to have spent time with me yesterday, said it is good to "be with [me]" and that I'm a "marvel" :)
Jeff's the Protestant chaplain at Tufts and gave the Benediction at their Matriculation (read: Convocation) today. We were chatting afterward, and it turns out that when he's composing a benediction for an occasion like that, he's thinking particularly of atheists and how to include them, which I was really pleased by, since I feel like usually in those situations anyone who doesn't believe in some Higher Power is elided (it honestly feels a little weird to me, now that I'm thinking about it, that there's still this explicitly religious holdover in a secular institution/event). I asked him to repeat a particular bit 'cause I was trying to commit to memory and could only remember as far as "May the Center and the Source of all that you hold most sacred and precious" and he actually had a hard copy on hand which he gave to me. Heart :)
As we prepare to depart from this gathering,
and head into the days ahead of us...
May the relationships you have built continue to flourish.
May the relationships you form in this place be healthy
honoring and expanding your vision,
and bringing you great joy.
May your mind be open and engaged.
May your spirit by centered, calm, and confident.
May your heart be full and vibrant,
informing what you learn here,
and pushing it into a sense of purpose
that is worthy of your gifts.
And in all you do here,
may the Center and the Source
of all that you hold most sacred and precious
stay steadily in your vision,
and leading you
into the sacred someone
you are becoming.
Our present meeting has ended. Our future begins anew.
May we walk toward that future, in courage in peace.
He said he cut out those last two lines, skipped right to the Amen, 'cause he felt like the whole proceedings were going on too long.