a Spiritual Journey in Real Life
In 2016, recovering from colon cancer surgery and treatment, I began to reassess life. In real terms, I resumed daily prayers with a time of giving thanks to God for the many blessings of family, faith, and fiesta! I was convinced again that life can be and should be lived in gratitude and with generosity.
Several authors offered counsel in the area of giving thanks and sharing generosity in my daily life, in the church, and in the community.
As to daily life, I decided to live each moment in the majesty of God's creation and take each step in the assurance of my faith in Jesus Christ. Each step in the mystery of faith has manifested in daily walks, longer walking treks, and in conversation along the way with dear and new friends.
In the church, wherever appointed to serve as pastor, I share stories of God's faithfulness and providence. Author Kent Millard helped remind me of the blessings we receive daily and how as people of faith we should count our blessings as they lead us into conversations of generosity.
"I invite congregations not to start the conversation about giving with the needs of the congregation. I encourage them to start talking about the blessings God has already given each of us. When people begin to count their blessings, they realize that God has blessed us abundantly. And if we feel any sense of gratitude for these blessings, we want to give to God in appreciation for all God has first given us.
(Kent Millard, “The Gratitude Path: Leading Your Church to Generosity.”)
In the community, I find that generosity from gratitude leads me to live into God's grace and love my neighbor as Jesus taught. Each of us has something to offer our community in the form of service. The gifts of God are amplified when we all share of ourselves with others - with neighbor.
You will hear me speak more on this topic of gratitude and generosity throughout the year. I have resumed my writing toward the goal of publishing a memoir: "Along the Way: thoughts on gratitude and generosity from a pilgrim's perspective" - stay tuned.
And may you experience many blessings in gratitude and generosity this fine day.
Along the Way
A Prayer for Grace
I AM bending my knee
in the eye of the Father who created me,
in the eye of the Son who died for me,
in the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
in love and desire.
Pour down upon us from heaven
the rich blessing of Thy Forgiveness;
Thou who art uppermost in the City,
be Thou patient with us.
Grant to us, Thou Savior of Glory,
the fear of God, the love of God, and His affection,
and the will of God to do on earth at all times
as angels and saints do in heaven;
Each day and night give us Thy peace.
Each day and night give us Thy peace.
You can find it in Mark, Matthew, or Luke: when Jesus teaches to love God and neighbor. This week we go to that next question humanity asks...
But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The story Jesus used to answer involves "A Rescue on Jericho Road." As you read the gospel this week, include Luke 10:25-37. Who do you identify with in the story?
See you Sunday if not before. Many blessings to you this week!
Wednesday mornings and River Road crossings have healthy intersections now as we have joined a walking group organized by Wesley Nurse Liz Thomas.
Five of us and BotheDog walked along River Road from Cave Springs Road to FM1340 and back. Outstanding company today included Barbara Lingle, Tom Deupree, Laura Harris, Liz Thomas, and Pastor Paul Harris.
I recommend this activity as heart healthy and soul enriching. And you may find me there each Wednesday I am able to walk for as long as the blessing of this pastoral appointment allows us to call this place home (a long time we hope).
Speaking of home: I once wrote that home is where your family abides. If you would like to be a part of the family of faith at Hunt UMC, please come and worship with us and abide in the love and grace of the Lord.
I hope to see you soon!
Alomg the Way
Arriving today July 5 in Hunt, Texas to begin a new appointment as Pastor of Hunt UMC - this was the setting sunlight showcasing the sanctuary steeple.
I look forward to seeing many sunrises and sunsets across the beam of this tower.
Today really started last night.
It seemed a bit weird that our belongings were being unloaded in Hunt, Tx as we are still traveling in the U.K. And something else didn't seem right. I had not heard from Dad as he had planned to go out and see how "the movers" were doing unloading our stuff.
We are six hours ahead of Texas time in our stay abroad; so, I went to bed not seeing the text that said Dad had fallen and was being transported to the hospital.
At about 4:40 am London time, I awakened in a hotel in Salisbury. Instinct or something like that (we call it family intuition) told me to check messages, emails, and other communication. There it was - the message. Dad is celebrating his 92nd birthday in the hospital with three broken bones.
I called my sister. Many blessings to her for flying in to be with the folks. Not much I can do from here except pray and ask others to pray.
I called a dear pastor friend and woke him up and asked him to pray with me and for my Dad. He did. Tomorrow on Sunday, he will take Holy Communion to my parents at the hospital. Praise be to the Lord from whom all blessings flow!
As my wife and I and our son finish our time here in the U.K., I give thanks for the connection of ministers that hold my Dad (retired minister) in their prayers. I give thanks for all of our friends who are now praying for our family. I give thanks for Mom & Dad's church family and their prayer connection.
I continue to experience the abundance of grace that I preach about weekly and give witness to daily. Dad is stable and being cared for by a competent and caring medical team.
Cheers Dad on the milestone of 92 years. Sorry you have suffered this injury. Grace and peace be with you now and in the days ahead. See you very soon.
Much love and many blessings!
Along the Way
As we made our way along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path today, we decided to forgo the remainder of our walk north of St Davids Head. After coming from St Justinians around Point of St John and on to White Sands, we walked up to a rocky point on St Davids Head and enjoyed the view of St George's Channel and a hazy horizon toward Ireland.
Ben and I had spoken of a detour up to a high spot called Carn Llidi. We committed to it after a short break and half our our lunch.
The 200 feet gain in elevation was well worth the climb. We could easily see the entirety of St Davids peninsula with the City of St Davids. Beyond we could see our previous Path around St Brides Bay.
This detour separated us from most of the group who ventured on toward Aberrddi. But the change in perspective was worth it!
another important Celtic saint and the location of a chapel erected at the birthplace of her son David. This structure was erected in 1934. The ruins of an earlier structure are nearby.
As we walked today around the westernmost land in southern Wales, I was impressed with the current of Ramsey Sound. It was moving fast to the south. Large seabirds floated much faster than we walked.
We stopped in Porth Clais for our packed lunch. There were fifteen to twenty small boats beached at the low tide in this tidal inlet at the mouth of River Alun.
After Lunch, The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path rewarded us with views of vertical rock exposures and tidal arches (washed out holes through the rock).
Then, I caught sight of St Nons Chapel. It was a point of great joy to step closer to it and think about those to be included in midday prayers.
We stepped up the hill and through the gate to enter a Retreat House and Chapel yard. Five of us took backpacks and hats off and entered the chapel.
A prayer book was opened for a daily prayer. The iconic stain-glassed window showing St Non filtered the light down across an altar and about 20 chairs.
I prayed for our walk, for our common journey, for ancient and current, for those with newly found illness, for my family, for the travelers Along the Way, and for the five of us sitting in this small chapel along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
Along the Way
After arriving in St Davids this morning, our group of four wandered down High Street to the market Cross and on to The Cross Hotel for lunch. And after lunch we drifted in the cool mist further down the hill to St Davids Cathedral. Looking down into the area enclosed by stone walls, we wondered about entry access for a transport chair.
[Note: Chair is the difference between a large old church building and a cathedral. The bishop's chair or seat is located in a Cathedral.]
As I pushed friend Karen Goodman in the transport chair down the asphalt road-ramp, we all stared in awe at the exterior majesty of the cathedral. The photo above is taken about half way down the ramp to the south entrance.
We rolled in the south door to the Nave and the mystery of this spiritual adventure resonated a deep peace in my soul. We then sat quietly soaking in the physical beauty and architecture of the interior.
I could imagine the sounds of the pipe organ or the voices of choirs. Peace. Community. History.
With more to experience, we moved about as a group walking with one friend riding in a transport chair. A beautiful biblical connection developed in my mind from Mark's gospel, 2nd chapter, the story of four friends searching for access to bring a paralyzed friend closer to Jesus.
Our rider is one of the most spiritual people I know, that is my friend Karen. And being connected in group with her and being conscious of the need to have walk-assist or transport chair access for her became the lens through which I viewed this cathedral.
I would not change anything about today. I was not leading. I was following the lead of the one riding. We adjusted our route to the north entrance via an outside ramp which yielded access for us to come closer to the Quire, to St David's Shrine, to the Holy Trinity Chapel, to Lady Chapel, and to art work displayed in the north and south chapel aisles.
While we toured the North Quire Aisle, a young man near us in the North Transept uncovered a piano and proceeded to play and sing as part of a presentation to middle-school aged students who were near St David's Shrine.
Serendipity is an understatement. The two Lauras- Laura Harris and Laura, Karen's sister, moved about us examining all the many treasures of this space. Karen sat in her transport chair no more than ten feet from the piano. It was as if the music had opened the final access point to entering the mystery of peace in this place.
We all reconvened and continued our self-guided tour. But in that moment, it became clear to me that an experience of pilgrimage, clarified with spiritual friendship and the need to find access, would become the theological context for the day and maybe of this adventure.
And the notion of a seat or chair that provides access to experience the divine among us... well, ... I am fortunate to be one that gets to push the transport chair of a dear friend who travels the same path.
Along the Way
Walk with us as we enjoy a Walking Holiday in Wales... the views and the history of this area have captured our hearts. Our first accommodation at the Anchor Guesthouse in Broad Haven is a lovely place with an iconic beach view of St Brides Bay. Helen Parry, and her family and staff, have lavished us with hospitality. The first two daily walks were a bit warm as the temperature rose to near 85 degrees, but today is overcast with temps in low 60s.
This Spiritual Adventure comes at a transition in the itinerant ministry as Laura and I leave Laredo and move to Hunt, Tx. The time away is a re-focusing of sorts. As we tell our Hiking friends about our time in Laredo, we realize how much we love serving there and the relationships developed over the four years.
This trip also gives us the time to prepare for our time to come in Hunt. We look forward with gratitude for the appointment and the opportunity to serve in the Hill Country district of our Rio Texas Conference UMC.
Today is a Day for writing as we skip a section of the Path we already walked during warmups. It is raining and the bay is foggy. I found a place in the sunroom at Anchor Guesthouse where the full view is available.
Majesty and Mystery
Along the Way
As we strolled along the shore of Lake Windermere near Ambleside, Lady Laura and I caught a glimpse of the lake that stopped us both in our tracks.
It is this image that captures my sentiment for tonight's Birthday celebration for Laura - at peace with one another and with life. We give thanks for this day and share many blessings with you all - family, friends, and fellow travelers ...
Along the Way