May 2019

“Our spirits long to be made whole.”

Illustrator and author Emily McDowell writes: You are not lost. Your true self is right here, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions and inaccurate conclusions … that became your beliefs about who you are. “Finding yourself” is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.

Early one March Saturday morning, our son Daniel called to say he was heading to the hospital with his wife Syrisa and the two girls. Syrisa was in labor. We left for the airport an hour later, and got to the hospital fifty miles north of Nashville around 6 pm, just a few hours after Kaleb was born. I took a picture of him – soft, tender, new, fully formed and barely formed.

Is Emily McDowell right? Is finding oneself, finding one’s wholeness, a matter of unlearning in order to remember who we were “before the world got its hands on us?” An effort to un-earth the unblemished spirit of who we truly are and were at birth?

Today Kaleb is a happy, affectionate, loud, somewhat willful and always in motion four-year-old. At birth, the genetic material in the cells of his small body encoded traits and characteristics that make him who he is and will continue to become. He is formed by his genes – and he is formed by all that surrounds him. We are born to have the world get its hands on us, and we do not become who we truly are on our own. There is no return, and wholeness, if possible, can only be realized by understanding our multiplicity and connectedness.

The spiritual guru and poet Mark Nepo tells us that the Lebanese greeting, “Ya Ayuni!” literally means, “Oh, my eyes!” or “Oh, my darling!” … He writes: Empowered by the presence of each other, the Lebanese people say, “Oh, my eyes! You’re here! Now we can see!”….Like the Chien, the mythical bird of ancient China that has only one eye and one wing, we must find each other in order to see and fly. “Ya Ayuni!” “Oh, my eyes! You’re here! Now we can see!”

Wholeness may mean joyfully embracing the connectedness at the core of our being. It is to me what congregational life is about. All of us – in all of the wonderful ways we are both the same and different – all of us together make the whole. I hope you’ll be able to come to Annual Meeting on May 19 – where we may say to one another, “Oh, my eyes! You’re here! Now we can see!”

It is a joy to be your minister.Janets signature