Results not typical.
I love that phrase - usually accompanying some guaranteed-ground-breaking-change-your-life-patterns-for-the-best-solve-your-problems product. Only subtly. Like a mumble at the end. Oh...by the way....don't get your specific hopes up that this will work for you.
The most groundbreaking thing I've heard in '08 so far, (besides Obama's "yes we can") is that life is difficult. Much of not only surviving life, but enjoying life, seems now pivoting on this truth, the choice to accept what it offers, and then move past it to the beautiful things that await such obedience.
A group of men I meet with every Monday night embody this for me. Tonight we spent a great amount of time trying to figure out how to care for some new additions to the circle. These new additions are men that went on a weekend retreat and encountered some of their most difficult truths, that cut through the old agreements and protections that a broken world has required of them just to survive. Now having seen this truth, there is a new freedom for most. A deeper conversation and a brighter hope in the midst of it all. Some men shake hands with their work and fade from it. Some stand tall in it, and catch a hopeful glimpse of what has always been waiting on the other side.
So. To consider such valiant people, fighting for good things in their lives...how do we care for them? How to shepherd them towards a lasting work, and that peace that truly passes all understanding? This hope can be accessed more easily in small numbers. Small numbers of people that are intimates of one another's stories. This pushes against the model set by most in our culture that growth is a good thing. I'm aware this week as we celebrate Easter, that growth in attendance isn't quite what Jesus was about.
It feels like there are moments I will tally up as my life flies by, where I am with someone and we connect in that cosmic manner of understanding a small bit of it at the same time, together. And in each's own way, we singularly shout back to God and the universe - in the passion of tears, anger, laughter, and love - that I am here and alive, and there's someone else who shares it with me.
The alleluia and the amen.