Welcome to the Engadine Newsletter. This newsletter is for those with whom we have links through our various programs, activities, baptisms, weddings or funerals. It is an opportunity to let you know what is happening and share some reflections to help you think about God, life, hope and spirituality. Therefore, we offer you these reflections with our prayers for your own spiritual journey through life. Please join us any time you are able, or would like to explore faith more deeply.
I have a story to share with you. It is a story told by Tony Campolo, sociologist, preacher and storyteller. It is a story about life and being alive. It is entitled, ‘Are You Alive?’
Several years ago, I taught a course at the University of Pennsylvania entitled, “Existentialism and Sociologism.” One semester, on the first day of class, I pointed to an unsuspecting student and startled him when I asked, “How long have you lived?” The student was taken aback by the question and answered, “I’m twenty-two.”
“No! No! No!” I said. “What you’ve told me is how long your heart has been pumping blood. My question was, how long have you lived?”
The student looked puzzled and couldn’t quite grasp what I was talking about. I then told him this story of something special that happened to me when I was in ninth grade and our school class took a trip to New York City.
We were taken to the top of the Empire State Building and,like most boys my age, I was chasing girls and crawling around the observation area. Then suddenly, I caught myself! I walked to the railing and peered over the edge of the building. The magnificence of the skyscrapers of New York lay before me and I stood there, stunned into reverence. In one mystical moment, I absorbed the city. I gazed at it with such intensity that if I were to live a million years that moment would still be part of my consciousness. I was so fully alive at that moment, that I sensed it had become part of my eternal now.
Then looking at the student, I again posed the question: “How long have you lived?”
My student answered pensively, “When you put it that way, Doc, maybe a couple of minutes. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Most of my life has been a meaningless passage of time, between all too few moments of genuine aliveness.”
This story makes me reflect on how much of my life I have lived. How much of my time I have been present in the moment. Aware of the wonder of life and the things around me. It makes me question “What is worth living and dying for?” What is worth putting lots of energy into? What gets me going and makes me feel really alive?
I think back to the significant events that are momentous – marriage, birth of children, baptism of children, celebrating life of those I’ve loved who have died. Spending time with those who grieve and who are dealing with the deep pain.
There have been simple moments of ‘being together’ and laughing or enjoying a shared moment; sharing over a meal, simple or complex, indulgent or basic.
Walking our dogs through the local bush, around Forbes Creek and experiencing the beauty of each new day; observing the wonders of life and the world around me. It is a very rich experience that fills me with awe.
Last year Owen, the kids and I visited the Grand Canyon. It was a deeply spiritual and profound experience. Looking at the rock formations, seeing the layers of colour and the vastness of the canyon was breath taking. I found it a deeply scared and spiritual place. Being in the presence of this sacred place was moving and enlivening.
For me, those moments those moments which are imbued with the spiritual are very rich and deeply profound. I am captured into something much bigger than myself and in touch with deeper reality and the sacredness at the very heart of everything. I understand these experiences as being ‘in God’, of living in the very presence of the One who holds everything in love and grace that I can barely describe or even understand. It is a profound mystery that is too often beyond mere words but it gives me life and enlivens me in the richest way. It is worth living for!
And even as I reflect on the past sacred moments of my life I am remined that I must not be caught in holding onto the past, whether the good things I want to cling to or the bad things I regret. I must also refrain from the temptation of constantly living for the future – planning and thought for the future is important but constantly being caught there is not living. Living, true living, is being truly present in the present, in the moment that is now!
So much of our lives are spent in the past or the future. Over the past four weeks of Lent we have been, as part of worship, looking at things that we need to let go of. There have been common themes of letting go of things of the past, past hurts, resentments and shame. As well as letting go of fears over the future.
Change is hard! Letting go of things is hard! Even when we know the things we need to let go of are not healthy or good for us. This is one of the reasons we are spending six weeks, not just one, letting go. Letting go of things can cause grief and we need time to grieve things well in order to heal and be whole.
At the same time over the past four weeks we have been looking for positives, the fruits of the Spirit, the things that we want God, the Spirit, to cultivate in our lives and to grow. We have been praying for empathy, respect, forgiveness, reconciliation, joy, ope, faith, peace and love. These are things of God, sacred things. Spending time intentionally asking God to cultivate these things in our lives helps us to live.
Our prayers are also being used to create a symbolic garden that has been growing over the weeks as the paper our prayers are written on are being transformed into flowers, frogs, dragon flies, and lady birds.
These represent life and transformation, the power of the Spirit of life in our lives. The power of Christ in us to make us a new creation – to bring us from death to life.
This week hear the story of a woman who offers the most outrageously intimate act of love to Jesus (John 12:1-8). Mary is her name and her brother is the recently restored-to-life Lazarus who also sits at the dinner table. Her sister, Martha serves the food and there are other guests, including the disciples. During the meal, Mary lets her hair down, breaks open an expensive jar of perfume and rubs it into Jesus’ feet. She then wipes his feet with her hair. This would be questionable in most company today, but in the 1st century such a sensuous, intimate act was scandalous. It is likened to the act of a prostitute, seductive and sexual. Mary has no such thought – it is an act of deep love for One who is experienced in his deeply loving, profoundly holy and gracious life. Mary recognises the extravagance of Jesus’ love in restoring her brother’s life and openly loving her and her sister as equal human beings. Mary is alive in this sacred moment and gives everything she has and is to share this love, life, joy and gratitude with the one who has and will give everything for her, and the world God loves.
It is only a little while later that Jesus dies for the sake of his love and mission of revealing God’s way of love and joy to the world. He goes to the cross knowing that he is alive in God and anything less than the pursuit of this mission of love and grace will be something less than true living. He is alive and shares this life with all who will receive!
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