My plan for this here blog is to post regular updates on my insights, experiences, and struggles surrounding the spiritual aspects of work, contemplation (spiritual disciplines), and leisure. My hope is to update the blog daily, at around 500 words or more, which makes the blog about work, disciplines, and leisure itself a work and an act of spiritual discipline. Maybe leisure, too.
Let me begin the whole project, though, by saying a little about myself.
I am the pastor of a Congregational church in Midcoast Maine.
We are located in a little town called Rockland, which is halfway between Portland and Bar Harbor. Rockland is working hard to become a destination point for travelers along the beautiful and popular Highway 1, which stretches from the top of Maine all the way down to Key West. For many years, Rockland was a brawling, smelly fishing town and was a pass-through point for people headed to Camden and beyond. It is a beautiful locale, even with its past, and is home now to many art galleries and several good restaurants.
I came here a little over 7 years ago. My first church was just outside Yellowstone National Park. We were high up in the mountains in one of the snowmobile capitols of the world. It was also beautiful, but in a very different way than here.
My path to the ministry was circuitous. I have been to seminary twice – once for a Master of Arts, and again for a Master of Divinity. The time between the two was about 12 years. In between, my wife and I lived in a commune for 6 years. We studied Tai Chi Chuan for about 12 years, and I taught it for many of those years. I still teach and study it.
From adolescence to my second round at seminary, I have (beyond Christianity) studied and/or practiced Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Bahai, Yoga, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and a bunch of weird mystery writings and borderline cult things. At the very least, I know enough about each of the faiths and religions I have practiced and studied to know they are not the same. To say, at their core, all religions are the same is an insult to the individual faith, and also to the devoted practitioners of each. Rather than trying to find out what is the same, I prefer to revel in the flourishing diversity through which God has chosen to express God’s self. My faith deepens when confronted with difference. Sameness of belief terrifies me.
I grew up in a Congregational church in western Wisconsin. I did a lot of things with my childhood church, but I was a weird kid as well. One of the things I liked to do was have conversations with the pastor (Rev. Jake), who was supportive of my explorations as I entered my teen years. My best friend and I used to go around to neighborhood churches to see what they did. We visited everything from the local synagogue to the Catholic church and even a couple meetings at the local Latter Day Saints meetinghouse.
I drifted after a couple years in college and when I went to seminary the first time, I was no longer a part of any church but had a deep fascination with Saint Francis of Assisi. Fascination and no connection to a faith community will not carry anyone through seminary without damage. I lost my faith during my first go around at seminary for various reasons, which will surely come up later on.
That may be a little more information than necessary for an introduction. But I figure this is a personal project and I am truly grateful for your participation in reading this. Over the next few days, I will break down the parts of my exploration. I will reflect separately on work, contemplation and discipline, and leisure.
Follow along. Comment if you like. I will try to be responsive.
In the meantime…
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord smile upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift his face to you and grant you peace.