Friday, August 21, 2015

The Invitation

The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling

I was invited to be a prayer partner for the Life Together program in the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts. Being a prayer partner meant that I would meet weekly with a group of young adults who were living in an intentional community and working on issues of social justice. The intentions of this community are simple; the impact on them and others is huge. Their work is contemplative, communal, and prophetic. They engage in actions and reflections, continuously learning and growing.

Orientation for these Life Together fellows was a marathon of eight days. I asked if I could be a part of it because I wanted to learn more; I was welcomed to join them as a witness. First, let me tell you what an awesome group of young adults these fellows are! No less awesome is the staff of the Life Together program and the facilitators who parachuted in for specific training. We learned about community guidelines, contemplative prayer, prophetic voice, transformative teams, mattering and marginalizing, non-violent communication, and how to be welcoming and non-judgmental people in a world that is filled with people who are, including me. We shared some of our stories through public narrative. We laughed and cried, shouted and whispered, and we let the Spirit speak to us in the silence.

I believe God is always present. I believe we can see Jesus in each of us. I believe that the Spirit is constantly speaking to us. We need only pause for a moment in silence to listen.

On the walls of 40 Prescott Street in Brookline, which is home to the Life Together and Leadership Development Institute staffs, as well as some of the 1st year fellows, there are quotes by famous people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Day. An invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder, also caught my eye.

Perhaps in a moment of silence, you might listen to what the Spirit is saying to you. I invite you to enter into our Life Together.

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
If you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fake it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with JOY, mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you in the tips of
your fingers and toes without causing us to be careful, be realistic, or
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day
and if you can source your own life from God’s presence.
I want to know if you can live with failures, yours and mine
and stand still on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “YES!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.