I am so grateful for the fresh, loving, strong ideas that were shared in all the meetings that the Annual Meeting weekend included. I am deeply grateful that they are available for us to watch now and into the future. I'm getting more from them each time I watch.
The workshop on, “CS Associations: a force for good in the world” was so new - so fresh!
My experience at our last Association certainly confirms the power of members' support for each other’s lives and growth.
Since a dear Association friend, who I've sat with and shared the day with for a long time, was no longer attending, I knew that this year's meeting would be different. Where would I sit? What would it be like to be alone?
I felt a grace and a peace about these questions. And on the morning of Association, as I was walking to the auditorium, I saw a woman who I've seen for years - a visitor from another country - and who I've always smiled at but never talked to. Well, we walked together and talked and I asked her if she'd like to sit together. She was very happy about that. And we shared the day. She joined the lunch group that I'd been part of for years. And we both felt enriched and blessed.
At the end of the day I was invited to join in dinner with people I'd known but never connected with in this way before. This too was expansive in my appreciation of the issues that members are thinking and working on. I continue to embrace some of these very contemporary and pressing needs in my prayers for our Association, our church and our society.
Then on the bus back to where I was staying, I got a call from someone in my branch church telling me about an accident and passing of one of our congregation's stalwart, devoted, active members. It was disquieting. The power of the day's message was certainly a safe harbor, and I stayed close to that. And the next day, Sunday, I connected with someone I'd smiled at in other years, but never talked to. We shared a wonderful meal and conversation together. When I told her about my church friend's passing, her experience and insight as a CS nurse gave her a quiet, powerful basis to share very strong ideas with me.
"Death is just a 'vision problem,'” she said. We just don't see the continuity of our friends. But it's there.
And I remembered an experience and insight I'd had years before when I was taking our son to college for the first time. We were driving along a majestic river, and as it was snaking its way out in front of us, it took a bend to the north and disappeared behind a huge hill. "That's death" was the startling and seemingly random thought that came to me. But it was comforting. I knew that the river continued even though it was gone from my sight. Everyone’s individuality and life continues when their physical presence is no longer visible.
The source, force and flow of that river was untouched by its apparent disappearing to my view. And in exactly the same way the Source, force and flow of life, being in and of Spirit, is untouched by its apparent disappearing to physical senses.
Regarding the apparent disappearing of the river as a metaphor for "death", Mrs. Eddy writes about the "illusion and delusion of sense" (My, p. 5) ... the river's disappearance to my eyes was literally an illusion ...and a conclusion that it was gone...a delusion.
And so as I was flying home on Monday I had the sweetest thought. I saw that the powerful inspiration of the Association meeting (maybe the strongest I'd ever had), my appointment with you, and all these new people I'd met - and since God is the source of all this good and God certainly doesn't stop expressing this freshness and newness because of what we call death - that this dear church friend was having new and fresh experiences just like I was!
I know that the value of our associations with members of our Association is potent... and so good. And this can only strengthen our church and bless humanity.