For the last 4 years I have been involved in the planning of, and participation in, a Clergy Men’s retreat. There were some who wondered why we were doing this; are they trying to bring back the patriarchy? Are they planning to bring back the Iron John movement and dance around firepits singing manly songs? Is this another version of the Promise Keepers? No – it is just a gathering of men dealing with the stresses of ministry and wounds of growing up male in America.
Our leader asked us a question last night; what, in our life, “pulled us”? What memories do we have of the time or times when we had to decide, or pivot, or change that led us to a different place than we thought we were going? My memory is this; I was 11 years old, and I saw the violence in my home, and I had to decide if there was something wrong with me, my dad, or God. I decided that I wasn’t so bad, and that a loving God wasn’t the cause, so you know the conclusion.
It was a turning point in my understanding of God – the idea that God is in control flew out the window, and the realization that free will rules the day won out. Things happen because we do them, or there are accidents, or there’s chaos. God is here, but giving us enough rope to save or hang ourselves. We blame God because we refuse to admit that God is good, but not the cause of our blessings and our problems; at least, not directly.
What pulls you? What are the things in your past that shaped and changed and pushed you? What is ahead of you, calling you to do something new and exciting? What makes you afraid, and what gives you hope? Every week in church I ask the people present how they have seen God at work – we call them “Spirit Sightings” – and we get a lot of wonderful answers. God is truly present, that still, small voice – that whisper in the ear – that nudge to speak or do or care. God doesn’t stop that car from hitting us – God does not keep that hurricane from tearing up the landscape. God does give us choices – God does push and pull us – we make it happen when we answer. What pulls you?
Prayer – We thank You, God, for the choices and the responsibilities You offer. Help us choose wisely. Amen.
Today’s art is a photograph by Bob Orsillo called “Birds on a Wire”.