Tuesdays are staff meeting days at the church where I work, and one of the things I proposed some months into my time there when I did not feel connected to other staff people, was to have one of us bring a short offering as an opening devotion. It took a while for folks to embrace the idea (or so I think); it has been not only a good way to begin our meeting, it has helped me get to know these folks on a different level. The poem you find below is what was shared today:
I’m dreaming about
a [world] of sensitivity and openness
a [world] of healing and welcome.
I’m dreaming about
a community of friends that celebrates differences and diversity and variety,
a community that is forgiving, cherishing, wide open.
I dream of women and men who minister life and laughter and love;
of men and women who minister healing and harmony and hope;
of women and men who minister to each other and minister to the
crying needs of a world that hurts.
I dream against the rough climb still to come,
against pessimism and despair;
I dream, I dream of the clear panorama of the vision of light
right at the top of the mountain.
Simon Bailey, Anglican priest in Sheffield, England who lived with AIDS until 1995.
(NOTE: In the first two lines I have replaced the original text, “church” with the word “world”)
One of my visits today was to a woman who is in her mid-nineties. She lives in an assisted living facility and in the past several months has befriended a gentleman there. I found the two of them sitting together, the hand of one resting on the hand of the other. He is not terribly conversational but today I sensed a warming now that I have visited them (!) several times now. The woman to whom my visit was directed spoke of her faith at one point in the conversation…I think remembering back on her youth in church, not at my prompting. She said that her faith in God has held her in the difficult times in her life. The death of her father was very difficult for her she said, but she came to realize that the bond the two of them had could not be broken and could not be taken away. She then spoke of Jesus and how he had come to tell us we could lean on him, to remind us that we are never alone. She spoke as well of the possibility of being reunited in some way with her father when she departs this life, which she said she thought was not far off (with a smile, no nervousness or anxiety).
Shortly after that very lovely sharing I turned to the gentleman and commented on what a wonderful spirit his friend had – that she never seemed to have a bad word to say about anyone. And he told me he agreed, and said that she is "always optimistic”. And this calls the poem to mind again: “I dream against the rough climb still to come, against expectation against pessimism and despair…”
It has been a great day.