“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words but to pour them all out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” - Marion Evans, 1819-1880, (pen name, George Eliot)
JUNE 25, 1959 (For those who did not go to the Assembly, held outside of Bryn Athyn, there was an informal banquet at the Club House attended by 135 people.) Toastmaster Lawson Pendleton introduced three speakers: Messrs. Bruce Glenn and Richard Waelchi and Dr. William Whitehead.
Mr. Glenn spoke reminiscently of the security and unity of Bryn Athyn in his childhood, using trips to Mrs. Heath’s [store] and pond gatherings to illustrate the deeper spirit of the society. We must continually reaffirm that spirit as we grow, in the face of severing influences.
Mr. Waelchi noted the apparent cyclical pattern of history and said that only dedication like that of the disciples can keep the promise of June 19 to fulfillment.
Dr. Whitehead pointed out that June 19th is the coming of the spirit of truth, to free us from the world. It means nothing to the world; but to the New Church man it shows a new sanity in spiritual matters – the true Christian religion. He closed with a moving personal affirmation of the faith he had accepted a half-century ago.
Recently Dorothy and I were at our favorite restaurant where Dorothy gets hugged a lot. So there they were: Mama (the owner’s wife) and her daughter with their arms wrapped around Dorothy in a group hug. I commented that they looked like a happy, emotionally strong group and I said, “Women are so strong.” Mama teased me with a playful implied question, “You just found that out.” We all laughed.
I related the news of this occurrence to Barb, Dorothy’s sister. She responded, via e-mail: “I think women are very strong. I think that’s why God made us the ones to have babies.” For sure.
There is a hostess/waitress in this same restaurant who seems to me to walk in beauty. She has a Scottish ancestry with the look of a fair lass. She seems to be above the often busy activities of restaurant with her head erect and showing an ever-pleasant smile.
On Friday, May 10th, I saw a young man in a wheelchair talking with two customers as they ate. He said that he had just graduated from Abington High School and that his wheelchair cost thirty thousand dollars. (It raises about three feet so that he can be at eyelevel with people.) Soon a waitress introduced him to Dorothy and me as being the son of the hostess/waitress. Then I saw her feminine strength. For, I think that since her son’s birth she has fed, bathed, and clothed her challenged son. And I think that she has always been there to attend to his emotional needs. What enduring strength she has. What a wonderful and strong woman she is. I suppose that her son would be a lost soul without her. With her, I think that he can face all problems and be above all difficulties, just as his mom appears to be.
“The church is only the church when it exists for others.” - D. Bonhoeffer
“Once a church which possessed no paid ministry, no priesthood, no cathedrals or church buildings, no endowments, no salaried bishops or secretaries, and no publicity except lies told by its enemies, held a disintegrating world together and laid the basis of a new civilization. Its power was not its own.” - Harold Fey
Vacations can relax the mind and allow a person to return to work serving uses with renewed strength and vigor. Yet vacationing can be overdone when some people want more and more leisure in their lives. Some folks feel abused if they don’t get many vacations.
I would tell them the following history: Dorothy’s grandmother died giving birth to Dorothy’s mother. Her grandfather did the best he could raising two daughters and two sons. But finally he decided to keep his two sons working on the farm (near Nashville, TN) and he put his two daughters into an orphanage. Dorothy’s mother was six years old then and she stayed in the orphanage until she was seventeen. Her experiences there often were horrible but finally she left the orphanage and married Dorothy’s father. They settled in Lansdowne, Pa and one of Dorothy’s mom’s greatest joys was having her own kitchen. So to make up for her own wretched childhood she spent many hours in her kitchen preparing wonderful meals for her own children. Dorothy has fond memories of the wonderful pastries her mom made. Yes, her family had one much appreciated vacation a year but no more were needed. Her mom was content with what Divine Providence had blessed her with which was a wonderful husband, three children and her own home and kitchen.
So those who yearn for more and more vacations would be well-advised to focus on the good things they do have. Even bodily health should be appreciated and yearnings for more and fancier “lots of fun” vacations should be held in proper perspective and controlled. Think about Dorothy’s mom and be thankful for what you do have.
Yes, I know that a person may have more of a lust for worldly pleasures who has only one vacation a year than another person has who has many vacations a year. But be careful about wanting too much.
Indeed the allurements of the world touch us daily and should be judged according to their usefulness to our spiritual welfare.
From the cowardice that dare not face new truths,
From the laziness that is contented with half truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me.
“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.” - Muhammad Ali
In the Word, in Mark 7, verses 21 and 22, there is a list of conditions that defile a man. Reading this list can be very sobering when people realize that they have been guilty of entertaining such wicked states in their minds during the course of their lives on earth. Surely we have all been touched, with varying degrees of guilt, by such states as avarice, deceit, blasphemy, theft, etc.
And the reason that I am writing this layman’s editorial is that I would like to reflect on the last word on this Biblical list which the Kempton translators rendered as “senselessness.”
I suggest that it may refer to a state of mind in which judgments are not based on facts. Surely people can appear to be quite foolish and senseless if they make up theories not based on facts. And oh, how one fact can destroy the most elaborate and beloved theories and how foolish the expresser of those theories can appear in human society!
For example, I remember a fellow who believed that I was an alcoholic and told others so for many years until I wrote an article in New Church Life. There I revealed the fact that I don’t drink the stuff. I talked with this fellow after my article was published and he seemed stunned and angry that his accusations had been without merit.
How senseless and irrational some people appear to be when facts reveal their foolishness! Let revealed facts expose nonsense-making gossipmongers. Society will be healthier then.
“Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” - Helen Keller
Last May I received a postcard from the Office of Advancement. I believe that it was composed from a well-meaning desire to raise funds for our church. However that plea for money contained many bothersome commands to the reader. On the front side it stated in bold letters “GIVE”, “GIVE,” “TELL” and “Ask.”On the back of this postcard I read the words:”Spread” “share” “Visit” and “Contact.”
All of these words left me with the thought that I was being told to “do this and do that.” I can assure the author of the postcard that most folks don’t like to be bossed around and be told what to do.
And I would suggest that the church fundraisers be more creative in their endeavors, utilizing other than requests via paper. In Bryn Athyn, for example, maybe the church could create a program of charging ten dollars each for homemade “gourmet” chocolate chip cookies. Young volunteers could sell them, door to door, in various sections of our community. And don’t forget Pine Run Park, and the houses on Woodward Drive. I am inclined to think that such a program would raise more funds here in Pine Run Park than were generated by the May postcard campaign. Do you think this is a delicious idea? I do.
Here are a few thoughts from Ben Johnson: “Nearly all churches state verbally their desire to grow. Often, however, their profession means, ‘we want to grow if persons will conform to the traditions and values of the church, but we do not want to grow if it requires change.’”
Let us always be ready to reexamine our traditions, including changing ways of collecting funds.
And let us seek to broaden our understanding of the usefulness of manmade values of the church. What values? That’s an interesting question. All I know is that Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) reveals a truth when he states, “I have no objections to churches so long as they do not interfere with God’s work.” All manmade church values should promote the Lord’s Church or what good are they?
A Sunday school teacher asked her young students as they were on their way to visit an adult church service, “Why should we be quiet in church?” A little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”
Unfortunately we often tend to cherish and cling to judgments we have made about our neighbors when they and we were young.
For example, the teenager of a wealthy family may have refused to contribute money to a fund for a camping trip his high school class was sponsoring, a long time ago. Therefore it is much too easy to assume that he and his family are wealthy because of miserly tendencies. And we assume that, now maybe 40 years later, that former classmate, has a greedy disposition. But truth may lie in the opposite direction.
Another example: It is normal for a teenage boy, having a general love of the opposite sex, to have made a sex-related comment, which the hearer still cherishes as being indicative of his neighbor’s lustful nature. Yet his friend’s former general love of the opposite sex may now focus on his wife alone. It is anything but wanton.
Another example of our unexamined former assessments of a neighbor is: “He was such a nerd, a real wall flower in high school, no wonder he has been unsuccessful in life.” Although that “nerd” may not be successful in saving lots of money, in many other areas of life he may be very successful for example, as a friend, gardener, musician, etc.
Maybe we still think that a former high school athlete, who gave us a hard hit during a football game, is mean-spirited, even as an adult in his senior years. Yet how foolish we may be in our thinking!
Indeed, the unexamined life is not worth living, so let’s get living by examining our views of our neighbors. It’s not too late to get real.