The first occurred on Wednesday when our Elder Journey group had their meeting. Rain was predicted for that day. A tree had knocked out power and snarled traffic in Walnut Creek and I feared that we would not have many people. Yet this intrepid group of those most chronologically gifted among us kept coming in, one by one, until all the chairs were full and we had to add a couple of extras. What ensued was a rich conversation about the Cohen hearings which had begun that morning, McCarthyism, conformity, the distressing vote within the Methodist faith and how these times were similar to and different from other times of crisis and challenge.
The second picture I invite you into is from Thursday night when approximately 30 people gathered for a conversation about “microaggressions,” those small, needling, often unintentional acts which lead people to feel unwelcomed, unvalued and unseen. Those who had organized and invited people to come were ecstatic to see every chair filled for this event as well–albeit a very different event from the one on Wednesday and yet also similar.
What was similar was that in both gatherings, a wide range of views were represented. In both gatherings, people brought very different life experiences. And in both gatherings, people listened with open hearts and open minds so that they might learn from one another and grow.
This, to me, is the miracle of our religious community. Here I use the word in the sense in which Frederick Buechner uses it….”A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Our community can bring together differing truths and hold them in relationship with one another.
May we continue to do so.