Harold Babcock's Sermons

January 27, 2008

When Life Gets Messy

Filed under: Uncategorized — newbabcock @ 8:48 pm

“It is easy to feel religious impulses well up inside us
When inspiration lives at our elbow and walks on our path.
It is hard to feel religious when we are tired with work to be done
And discouragement seems to mark our every move.”
– Richard S. Gilbert

OK, so you know as well as I do that life is always messy.  Loose ends never get completely tied up.  Our lists are never ending, our check-marks only the dream of completion.  Perfection is not just elusive, it is an illusion.

Control is an illusion, too.  We don’t really have much, though we like to think we do.  Truly, we know not what a day shall bring forth.

It’s not a question of if, but, as Dick Gilbert recognizes, of when.  When life gets messy.  Because you know, and I know, it will.  Life is messy.  I have enough of the New England Puritan in me to know that it’s only a matter of time.  (Or maybe it’s the ghost of my Scottish grandmother.)  Just when things seem to be going great, life intervenes with its reminder about our best laid plans.  They go astray.  We go astray.  No good deed goes unpunished.  We’ll pay for this.  You know.

On the serious side of the ledger, what do we do when life gets messy?

At such times it’s pretty easy for our lives to get off the track.  It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, or to forget about the long-range plan.  At such times we long for some stability, for an anchor in the storm which our life has become.  We sometimes feel, as many a song has sung, “lost and alone.”  We long to be found.

An emerging theme in my sermons this year has been that all of us will encounter those messy, dark-night-of-the-soul times of life: in our work, in our relationships, in our faith.  There will be months and even years when it is a struggle just to get through another day.

It was the great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross who coined that evocative description of those times when our faith–in God, in life, in meaning–seems to be lost, and a kind of religious despair descends upon us.  It’s a fitting description.

In the mystical paradigm, the dark night is what usually follows the mystical moment of oneness or union with the divine.  We have this tremendous moment of ecstasy and of awesome religious certainty, outside of time and space, the taste of the eternal in the now.  But then it is past, and we are left feeling empty and alone.  Will the ecstasy ever return?  Will we ever have that experience of oneness again?  Will the eternal ever come to visit us again?

Perhaps the paradigm was only an early attempt to define the manic state: up one minute, down the other.  Just another way to describe what today we call depression.  I’ll leave that to your own speculation.  But for me the dark night of the soul is a useful metaphor for those times in life when purpose is lost or obscured, when life’s meaning falters, when work doesn’t reward, when desire wanes, when the sense that I am moving in the right direction, any direction, abandons me.  It’s an apt description.  As Dick Gilbert wrote in the morning’s reading,

It is easy to feel religious impulses well up inside us
When inspiration lives at our elbow and walks on our path.
It is hard to feel religious when we are tired with work to be done
And discouragement seems to mark our every move.

At such times I wonder if life really means anything.  I wonder if my actions really matter.  Is there a reason for my being?  Or is it really just a great, cosmic accident, some kind of sick joke–as Shakespeare put it so well, “full of sound and fury” but “signifying nothing”?

At such times in life–and they will come to all of us–I have found that it is good to have some kind of practice to help sustain me until my feet find the path again.  Sometimes it can take a while for that to happen.  Years, even.  So it is vitally important that we keep up with the things that we always do, even when we don’t feel like it.

I know how difficult that can be.  Because part of being stuck in those dark night, messy times of life, is that we lose interest.  We lose desire.  We question our innermost ideals.  We feel that we might not be able to go on.  We lose the sense of joy that we normally have in our work and our leisure, even in the things we love the most.

We feel this at a gut level, but it can also happen at the intellectual level.  We say, what is the point?  We say, does it really matter?

This is precisely the time when we most need to stick with the program.  Is walking the thing that usually sustains you?  Then walk.  Is it reading?  Then read.  Is it prayer?  Then pray.  I’m a true believer in the one day, one task at a time philosophy of life, particularly at such times.  Can’t see your way to the end of the day?  One small task at a time.  Can’t imagine what tomorrow will bring?  One day at a time.  One day, one week, one month, one year.

When my faith falters–and by faith I don’t mean “belief,” but rather “trust”–trust in myself, in others, in God–it is important that I continue doing what I have always done.  When I lose my trust that the universe has meaning, that my life has meaning, that my work has meaning, I try to just keep on keeping on.  I try to find meaning in all the small and seemingly insignificant events of my day.

Often it is when I reach out to help someone else that I feel a glimmer of my old sense of purpose returning.  For we recall in such acts that we can give our lives meaning, even when they seem to lack it intrinsically.  We can act as if our lives have meaning, even when we are doubting it.

For some of us, keeping on keeping on can just mean maintaining our usual schedules. Just showing up.

Showing up for church, even when we don’t feel like it, can be a good spiritual discipline in the messy times of life.  It forces us out of ourselves and into the company of others; there is time to be alone, but we do so in the presence of others.  It’s amazing what a little human contact can do during life’s messy times.  It’s hard to stay completely self-absorbed when surrounded by others who share the journey with us.

I’m fortunate that I have to go to church.  Because I confess that there are weeks when I really feel I would rather stay home.  There are times that I feel I cannot possibly come up with another sermon.  I don’t feel that I have anything left to say.  I get tired of hearing myself speak.

I suspect that most of us feel something like this from time to time: just tired of being who we are, just tired of being us.

But serendipitously I often find that the act of writing my sermon is therapeutic.  It’s an adjunct to the “talking cure,” I suppose.  In trying to work things out, in trying to find something to say to all of you, I discover insights I didn’t even know I had.  I feel so grateful to have the opportunity which you give me to share those insights.

In recent years, when friends or colleagues ask me what kind of spiritual discipline I practice to sustain me during the messy times of life, I have begun to say: “writing my sermon.”

I think those of you who are writers will understand.  For I know that many of you write for the same purpose: to discover the wisdom you didn’t know you had; to learn more about yourselves, your deepest selves; perhaps also to rid yourselves of demons, or maybe to re-inspire  yourselves.  In the act of creation there is always the opportunity for something new to be born, something never before experienced or thought of.  There is also the possibility to rediscover our faith.

So much in Dick Gilbert’s prayer speaks to me:

It is hard to pray when wind and rain and thunder
Plague our every step and spoil our every plan. . .

It is hard to be virtuous when life assaults us
And our very being is a pilgrimage from bad to worse. . .

It is hard to be happy when pain and fatigue beset us
And we wonder if we can go on. . .

It is hard to do good when we suffer for our efforts
And are troubled because we have been misunderstood. . .

All of us have experienced these feelings, or will.  All of us will experience those messy times of life when life seems even messier than usual.  Each of us will enter the dark night of the soul, whether we call it by that name or some other.  How shall we respond?  What are the resources we can draw on to sustain us at those times?

The purpose of religion and of a religious life, I believe, is to put aside a store of such resources and to create a pattern in our lives which will sustain us when life gets messy.  It is to build a foundation which will not be shaken when the winds of trouble blow upon us.  Our religious practice can be a shelter from the wind when the candle of our faith flickers and threatens to go out.  Paradoxically, it is when we have lost our faith that our religion is most essential.  It can hold us until we find the path again, until the candle of our faith again burns bright, until our hope returns.

It is not, as I have said on many occasions, about a particular body of belief, though it is vitally important what you believe.  It is more about finding that divine spark which burns deep within each of us, that essential core of value that sustains and upholds us even when we are questioning whether we have the strength to go on.  It is what we do during the good times that can help us to survive the messy times.  Too often people turn to religion only during the bad times, and I fear they are usually disappointed.  It is those who have set up a store for the wintry times of life during life’s summer times who will find most solace there.

As Dick Gilbert recognizes, it is easy to give thanks when times are good, and life fools us with the illusion of control and order and neatness.  And we should give thanks, for we know that it could be otherwise.

But the true gift is to be thankful even when life is messy, which it is most of the time.  What one learns if one pays attention is that even the dark-night-of-the-soul times pass.  We may never again be what we were before, but there is truly no end to what we might yet be and become.  As author Ursula LeGuin reminds us, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”  Let us go forth with that hope, and that faith, to face the times of our lives, even those which are messy and unresolved.  It will always beat the alternative.  Amen.

– The Rev. Harold E. Babcock
January 27, 2008

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January 13, 2008

The Dream of Universal Peace

Filed under: Uncategorized — newbabcock @ 8:52 pm

“All great movements in the world have originated from dreams and dreamers.
Take away the dreams or ideals from the life of humanity and you have taken away
all that which makes human life glorious.”
-The Rev. Dr. Amandus Norman

One actually feels rather naïve in these early days of the 21st century to even speak of peace. Having only just emerged from the vast horrors of the 20th century into a violent new decade, one must admit that the prospects for peace are not looking so good. In recent weeks alone we have seen the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, a country already dangerously destabilized by religious fanaticism and political tyranny. The war in Iraq, which threatens to spread into the entire middle east, while somewhat moderated in recent months, will soon drag into its sixth year. War continues to plague the continent of Africa. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, and war threatens Lebanon once again. The Serbian province of Kosovo again may become a flash point of ethnic and religious conflict. All around the world, regional conflicts, some of them costing hundreds of thousands, even millions, of lives, continue to flare. Is it possible that the eagerly awaited new millennium might be as horrible as the last?

Here in North America, most of us remain relatively unscathed by these conflicts. We can, if we choose to hide our heads in the sand, even imagine that these conflicts in foreign lands have little to do with us, though I think in our world of instant communications this head-hiding is becoming harder and harder to do.

We live against a constant backdrop of cruelty and violence. Life has apparently become so meaningless and valueless in many parts of the world that suicide bombing has become an acceptable weapon of war. One can no longer assume that the simple love of life is a very effective deterrent to violence and war.  Vast armies find themselves thwarted by a relatively small number of ideological and religious fanatics, and our world is turned upside-down.

Meanwhile, we Americans fail to notice the log in our own eye while searching out the speck in that of our foes. The fact that our government’s policies and actions and our own affluent lifestyles might actually be a cause of much of the violence and unrest in our world often goes unmentioned.

Clearly, what is needed is a totally new paradigm for peaceful  coexistence in our world. We are hearing a great deal about change from our political candidates, but I wonder if the will is really there to make the kind of radical changes that are needed, not just to end violence in our world, but perhaps even to save our threatened planet?  The task seems overwhelming, considering the amount of time that contemporary lawmakers waste on insignificant and divisive issues. We talk about morality while the greatest immoralities in the history of humankind go on unabated. At least it is a relief to hear the frontrunners in this year’s political campaign, with the exception of Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney, talking less about their religion. Could it be that the recent dark age of conservative religious discourse in America is finally coming to an end?

Probably wishful thinking on my part.

I remember back in the 1980’s when the nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union threatened our world with total assured destruction. Now those days of easy, black and white versions of geopolitical realities seem strangely nostalgic. We hardly stop to think of the nuclear threat anymore–it has receded and almost seems to have become irrelevant to this new world of suicide bombers and global warming in which we find ourselves today. (Unless, of course, we are talking about those pipsqueak Iranians and North Koreans. Meanwhile, the Russians, who don’t like us very much these days, continue to have a huge nuclear arsenal, as do we.)

Remember when a nuclear missile system was named “the peacemaker”?  We should have known then that we had entered Orwell’s Brave New World. One of my colleagues at the time wrote that “if we are going to have such a system let us at least be honest with ourselves about its name. Let us name it the ‘Destroyer,’ ‘Annihilator,’ ‘Leveler,’ ‘Challenger,’ or even ‘Equalizer,’ but not the ‘Peacemaker.’”  The concern now seems somewhat misplaced, as only a few well-prepared and placed fanatics can practically paralyze a whole civilization. But the use of propagandistic doublespeak has only increased and become more sophisticated in the years since the MX missile system was introduced.

I used to be more of a believer than I am now in the just war theory that sometimes the use of violence is justified. I am no longer as sanguine about that as I used to be, and I wish I were a kind enough and forgiving enough person to be a true and thorough-going pacifist, because I truly believe that violence is a dead end–literally. I am no longer certain that we know how to use violence in a controlled and rational manner.  Or is that just a non-sequitur?  Violence always seems to develop a life of its own.

Is the dream of universal peace, then, dead?  I regret that in my less optimistic moments, of which there tend to be more and more these days, I am not particularly hopeful. Having observed people and communities closely for the last twenty-five years, I am discouraged that we are sometimes unable act kindly and peacefully even among ourselves.  How can we expect entire nations and ethnic groups to act peacefully toward one another when we have a difficult time even with those we know and love and have much in common with?

But, my job is not to treat you to a completely pessimistic picture of our prospects for peace. My job is to try to send you forth with some hope and courage along the way. Sometimes, I admit, this is hard work. But let us consider that we have no alternative. If we are unwilling to make the effort–impossible though it may often seem–to bring about the changes to our world that we so desperately desire, than who?  Who will do it, if not us?

The little quotation on your orders of service strikes the right note:  as my predecessor at the Nora Unitarian Church in Hanska, Minnesota wrote in the years after the terrible cataclysm of the First World War (the so-called “war to end all wars”), “All great movements in the world have originated from dreams and dreamers. Take away the dreams or ideals from the life of humanity and you have taken away all that which makes human life possible.”

If for no other reason, we must do this work for our children. We must remain idealistic against the odds. We must keep hope alive for them as well as for ourselves. And in this season when we prepare to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we can reflect that there have been at least a few noble efforts made toward living a peaceful and non-violent ethic, and that those efforts even achieved a great deal of success. The problem is, they have not been tried often enough.

The Buddhists have it right, I think:  peace in the world must begin with peace in our own homes and hearts. Each of us has the ability to make our small corner of the universe a more peaceful and loving place. I am convinced that this is where it all begins. I am even convinced, from my life experience and from my recent travels, that the vast majority of people are good at heart. Unfortunately, evil burns bright and often extinguishes the light of goodness that is in actuality more prevalent but less brilliant. Perhaps that is the nature of evil. But I truly believe that most people in the world desire peace for themselves and for their families and for their countries.

Of course, there can never be peace until the goods of the earth are more equitably distributed. Will we ever have the political will to allow this to happen without violence and bloodshed?   I think it is clear that our ever-shrinking planet will be the ultimate arbiter of what is possible in terms of lifestyle and consumption for the future of the people’s of the earth. Whether equilibrium can be achieved without a violent cataclysm remains to be seen. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that there are more than a few in our world who would rather die than give up any of their wealth.

I don’t think anyone goes into the ministry without at least a small conviction that he or she can change the world for the better. It is the ideals of life which at least initially draw one toward a religious vocation. Holding on to one’s ideals, I have discovered, is terribly difficult. So many good and decent  people are ground up in the violent machinery of this world that one can get discouraged. Yet perhaps Theodore Parker, the great 19th century Unitarian minister and abolitionist, was right, when he argued that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it [ultimately] bends toward justice.”  One can certainly read the tragic history of humankind that way: one can argue that good does ultimately triumph over evil, or at least that it often has in the past.

We must hold on to our ideals, even when we have lost sight of the path, even when all seems lost, even in those dark-night times of life when all that we have believed in seems to have abandoned us.

These are not easy times in which to live, but there has never been an easy time. Perhaps, as the old saying has it, the darkest time is just before the dawn. We know that there are those working in our world for a more just and more humane civilization. The time of nations and nationalities may finally of necessity be passing away. We must either become one people on one planet earth, working together for the common good, or we shall all perish together. Keeping the dream alive, even in the throes of despair, is what we are called to do as religious people.  True religion may always be told from false: it is that force which seeks to unite all in love and brother/sisterhood, and to build the beloved community  here on earth.  Anything else is a lie.

When I am feeling lost and hopeless at heart, it is good to know that there are people out there who can help me along the path until my strength is renewed and I am able again to walk alone. That is at least in part what our church is for. The dream of universal peace will only die if we let it. It can begin today in your own life: in your relationships, in your family, in your actions and deeds. You cannot save the world alone: but together with others, we can start a peaceful revolution.

What can I do on this day to extend the realm of peace?  As you go forth today, let that be the question that you ponder. Little by little, if you keep the faith that such small actions can indeed make a huge difference, you will see your fondest hopes brought to flower. That is my hope for each of us, on this day, and in all the days of strife which inevitably await each of us. May it be so, world without end. Amen.

– The Rev. Harold E. Babcock
January 13, 2008

January 6, 2008

Through Sunshine and Shadow

Filed under: Uncategorized — newbabcock @ 8:57 pm

It is to be broken.  It is to be
torn open.  It is not to be
reached and come to rest in
ever.
-Wendell Berry, from “Marriage”

Today is Sabrina’s and my 29th wedding anniversary.  As I noted in the Steeple Bi-weekly, this hardly seems possible. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we started out on this journey together?  Well, at least it was this time of year.  We were married on Twelfth Night in 1979, after an engagement of less than four months.  Needless to say, we had no idea what we were getting into.

Of course, we have known each other for as long as we can remember, though as Sabrina is fond of reminding me, I’m much older than she is.  We spent our formative years in the same small, Maine community, even attended the same Unitarian Church, and so we share many childhood memories in common.  In Sabrina’s and my case, we were even delivered by the same doctor, who just happened to be my grandfather, also named Harold Babcock.  We also knew each other’s families.  Though Sabrina’s family had moved away when she was eight, she continued to spend summers in Castine, and I maintained a close friendship with her older brother and sister throughout high school and most of my college years.  So it wasn’t like we were strangers to begin with.   (I have come to see this shared background as a great advantage.  Perhaps there is some wisdom in arranged marriages after all.)

On the other hand, who is foolhardy enough to get married in Maine in January?  Not the most auspicious of times for a wedding celebration.  Lucky for us, it was a beautiful, crystal clear day with a bright blue sky, though it could easily have been otherwise.  Perhaps that was the beginning of our luck.

I do have to tell you that this is the first time I have ever preached a sermon just about marriage.  The fact is that until recently I was reluctant to preach about an institution from which many of my friends and fellow parishioners were excluded.  But thanks to an enlightened judiciary and legislature here in Massachusetts, this is no longer the case, so I feel as if I can now speak of marriage with impunity, if not necessarily with expertise.

Let me add that I also know there are those among us who are not married–some by choice, though others might wish to be.  Perhaps this is a subject for another sermon.  But let us hold those who are not married in our thoughts this morning as well, recognizing that marriage is not the only possible relationship, or even necessarily the best.  It is, however, the relationship in which many of us find or hope to find ourselves, and for that reason, I think, it is worth exploring.

Sabrina’s grandfather used to say, sarcastically, that anyone who got married twice deserved it.  One doesn’t necessarily have to take that as a negative, though that is of course what he meant.  No one “deserves” an unhappy marriage, second or otherwise.  On the other hand, I think many of us don’t completely deserve our happy marriages, either.  My hope, or perhaps it is my faith, is that some of us can come to deserve them, or at least to deserve them more than we do today.

My sermon title for this morning is actually taken from the “statement of intentions” in Sabrina’s and my wedding ceremony, where we “solemnly promised” to “loyally fulfill [our] obligations . . . through sunshine and shadow alike.”  I love that phrase, even if I didn’t really have a clue what it meant at the time I promised it.

Often now, when I perform weddings, I wonder if the couple, particularly if they are young and are marrying for the first time, really understands the profundity of such a promise: “in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.”  How can they, really?  I don’t think I did–I’m not sure I do.  How can we possibly know what challenges and difficulties the years will bring forth?  If we did know, we might well never get married in the first place.  The reality is that the challenges and difficulties will destroy almost 50% of all marriages, a statistic which is sad but true.

The fact is, I have learned that it is almost impossible to deter people from getting married once they have decided to do so, even when it is quite obvious that the marriage is likely to fail.  All a person in my position can do is refuse to perform the ceremony–but rest assured that the ceremony will probably go on.  Love, as the old saying has it with truth, is blind.

And that is undoubtedly a good thing.  None of us knows what the years will bring forth, whether of triumph or tragedy.  Blessedly, we cannot divine the future, at least not fully.  We can set out in a direction, we can define a path, we can pursue it with the utmost intentionality, but in the words of that old Scottish wisdom, “the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang astray.”  This becomes even more clear if and when we have children.

I now think of a successful marriage as almost equal parts work and luck.  I think I have been incredibly lucky in my marriage, but I also know that it has taken a ton of work to make it work.  One needs the luck, because even with the best intentions and the hardest work some marriages will never make it.  This is painful but true.  Sometimes the odds are just stacked too high against success.  That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to salvage something in which one has usually invested so much.  It just means that sometimes the differences turn out to be so great that they are impossible to overcome.  And when this is the case, it may well be better to recognize the fact, cut our losses, and get on with our separate lives.

I’m not a professional marriage counselor, but I have had the opportunity to observe and to talk with and I hope to empathize with a number of married couples in crisis over the years.  Sometimes those couples have stayed together, sometimes not.  It is not really for me to judge whether or not that is or was a good thing.  I can really only judge for myself whether it is or has been worth it to stick with my marriage over the years.

For me, it has definitely been worth it, because I believe there is a great potential for going deep in our relationships if we are able to bear with them, and if they are not so painful or destructive that we would really be better off out of them.  There is a tremendous possibility to learn more about ourselves, if we are willing and able to try, and that, it seems to me, is a religious goal, perhaps the most important religious goal: to discover who we really are and what we are really meant to do.

Wendell Berry’s poem, “Marriage,” which I read to you this morning, has always seemed like an honest and realistic description of marriage, at least from a male point of view:

How hard it is for me, who live
in the excitement of women
and have the desire for them
in my mouth like salt.  Yet
you have taken me and quieted me.
You have been such a light to me
that other women have been
your shadows.  You come near me
with the nearness of sleep.
And yet I am not quiet.
It is to be broken.  It is to be
Torn open.  It is not to be
reached and come to rest in
ever.  I turn against you,
I break from you, I turn to you.
We hurt, and are hurt,
and have each other for healing.
It is healing.  It is never whole.

The first time I read that poem, I felt its truth for me.  Temptation is real.  And how many times, during my marriage, have I had to face the fact that I needed to grow and change?  Don’t get married or stay married if you don’t want to be confronted by your shortcomings on an almost daily basis, and if you are unwilling to change them, or at least to work on changing them.

The fact is, as Urban Steinmetz wrote in the morning’s reading, “all of us marry strangers”:

We think we marry people who are compatible, because when we are in love, we are about as dishonest as people can be.  Instead of showing our mates who we are and how we really feel about each other, we put on an act; we try to impress; we pretend to be the kind of person we believe our partners want us to be.

But the reality, Steinmetz continues, is that “The man or woman we finally learn to love, and love to live with, is not the person we married.  The one we married was at least a partial fake.”

That sounds harsh, and in some instances it probably is.  But it is also truthful.  There is also the reality that people change.  People grow, they find new interests, they change careers, they get more education.  Sometimes one member of a couple can be left behind in this process: a painful occurrence, but not all that unusual.  And sometimes it is hard, too, to accept our partner’s success.  Because we must learn to accommodate ourselves to their new self-understanding and public perception.  If we are lucky, we come to appreciate and admire their success, but it is never easy.  A successful marriage is at least in part a continual coming to terms with such changes, and, it probably goes without saying, a continual openness to them.

I have been blessed in my marriage by a partner who has been willing to go with the flow and to bear with most of my whims, not all of which worked out as I had hoped and planned.  I know this has not been easy.  All of us experience difficult times in our lives and marriages.  That is the “sunshine and shadow” part.  Sometimes we have to enter what the mystics call “the dark night of the soul” in our relationships as well as in our lives.  If we can make it through them, we are often amazed by what we find on the other side.  Sometimes, and mysteriously, we find that our relationships and our lives have been deepened as a result of those experiences.  I can only say, to those of you who may be in the midst of them, that my own experience has been that it is worth the struggle to make it to the other side.  But only you can ultimately decide.

You may remember the beautiful couple in the movie Annie Hall, who when asked what keeps their love alive, brag that they are both vapid, empty-headed, and shallow.  There is no question that shared values are essential to a healthy marriage.  But no less important are our shared dreams and goals.  I have found a sense of humor to be indispensable, as well as flexibility and realistic expectations.  Communication may be the key to it all.  I suppose it goes without saying that we actually need to like the person we are married to.

Whether or not that all adds up to “love” as we originally conceived it, I leave to your consideration.  Playwright August Wilson once wrote of playwriting, “The story you discover as you walk along the road.  You don’t know where it’s going, you just walk along the road.  You’ll get there.”  I think the same might be said of marriage, though with Wendell Berry’s caution about never coming to rest.  There’s only one way that a marriage should reach that point, and you don’t want to go there.

May the new year be filled with revelations about ourselves and others, as we go forth to grow and to become, in all our relationships and in all the days to come.  So be it.  Amen.

– The Rev. Harold E. Babcock
January 6, 2008

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