A Presbyterian Sermon
As Susana gradually shared her faith with me, I became more and more curious why and how our conversation turned towards spiritual beliefs. Not pushy, petulant or pedantic, she comfortably articulated some of her more passionate beliefs. As our nearly 2-hour lunch-break conversation grew to a close, I realized her inspiration and description had sparked some impulse to explore and attend her church's upcoming services. It was the sermon that particular Sunday that helped relight my fire.
As a birthright Quaker, I have always been open to other religious perspectives. So attending a local church felt almost natural to me. Over the years my curiosity has frequently lead me to hear diverse messages from various religions - I have learned much from this practice. My visitations have helped me develop a deeper appreciation and clearer universal understanding of how people believe and worship.
When I arrived early and took a seat in the sanctuary, Allen, the official greeter, introduced himself to me and to others. These people weren't the hungry vultures I had experienced before at some other churches. These were genuinely gentle, relaxed and comfortable introductions. Nothing felt forced or fake - these kind souls simply reached out to greet a stranger in their midst. The music was pleasant and upbeat; even the drummer came over and introduced himself. No pressure or hype and a diversity in the congregation that felt more representative of local population. An after-gathering of the congregation for a greet- meet-and-eat on a nearby patio was also warm and welcoming. It was a supportive vibration with pleasant encounters. The friendliness felt real and authentic.
While Key Biscayne exudes a diverse population being close to cosmopolitan Miami, what impressed me the most was the diversity of the day's sermon. Pastor Felipe's words were powerful in their own right, but made even more meaningful was a profound connection to events and emotions surfacing at this time in my life. When one's own life challenges and circumstances match many aspects of sermon's theme, it is impossible not to realize and recognize the life thematic connections. Pastor Felipe's references to depth and breadth in our relationships and endeavors, about knowing each other from openness and honesty, his examples about love and truth as inseparable, his references between to the powerful forces of fire and wind, to me, were all about my son and me.
The night before the sermon I had had a difficult yet long overdue dialogue with my 30-year old son about our different interpretations with honesty, truth and love. Much of our conversation indirectly related to fallout from my 29-year old divorce from his mother. The day before I had read and written about truth so it was a meaningful topic for me. And with much still unresolved between us around these issues, the timing felt right to clear the air. But it did not clear the air as much as stoked the flames of love between us.
The church visit experience intrigued me enough to attend a cook-out and all men's Bible study on the following Tuesday. All three experiences captured my imagination.
What I once experienced as circumstantial coincidence and situational synchronicity was now appearing as daily universal lessons. If you have been following my blog, you might have read how my transformation has grown these last two years.
My thoughts, feelings, readings and writings almost don't seem like mine any more. It felt odd at first, but what once felt magical or even miraculous in the past has now moved into a deeper spiritual understanding. It is not something easy to explain in writing or even in person. Attempting to verbalize or vocalize this sensation becomes almost futile. Trying to explain that which is mostly feeling does not do the messages justice.. it is, after all, my own unique experience - something I need not verify, validate, confirm nor defend. As uncomfortable as it might be for some people, especially skeptics, cynics and doubters, I can only say they are missing their boat! But it is more likely "they don't know what they're missing."