“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Staying Grounded: What's Your Practice?

This past week, I was involved in two significant interfaith gatherings.

Gathering at Hennepin Ave Methodist Church (see more
pictures here.)
1) A week ago, I gathered with 550 people of all faiths at Hennepin Ave United Methodist in Minneapolis to begin to strategize about how to defeat the Constitution Amendment that will be on the ballot in November 2012, defining marriage as one man and one woman. Minnesotans United for All Families, working with Outfront Minnesota, did an outstanding job organizing this event, and the spirit was moving in the place, even though the power was out for the first 45 minutes!

I was there because as a person of faith, I believe that Love matters, families (in all configurations) matter, and that marriage - for everyone! - matters.

I also think it's important to remember what Jesus had to say about homosexuality and gay marriage, which is this: "." As far as what truly mattered, he said: "Love God and love your neighbor."

I know that the track record for defeating these Constitutional Amendments is not good, but I believe we have a good chance of defeating it next November. If we do, Minnesota will lead the way as we rewrite the national story on this issue.

Ready to march with the Earth and a Heart of the Beast Puppet 
2) And last Saturday, I was at the Moving Planet-Moving Faith rally at the Capitol, in St. Paul, part of a global event, to encourage our leaders to help move the planet off of fossil fuels. A handful of clergy, including me, spoke at the event (you can watch a two minute video of me, if you're interested.)

While there was strong turnout at both of these events, and lots of energy and passion, it is not clear what the outcome of either of these issues will be. It's possible that the Amendment will pass next November. It's possible we'll fail to move beyond fossil fuels, and leave a devastated planet to future generations.

Much as I want to be involved in efforts I know are going to succeed, that's not how it works. I'm called to act upon my faith regardless of what the outcome might be. There's always the chance of heartbreak. Thus, as a person of faith, it is critical that I have spiritual practices and discipline that ground me, so that I stay centered, loving, hope-filled, and open hearted when I engage in issues where the outcome is not clear or certain. .

So on an almost daily basis I pray, journal, read, reflect, and give thanks. I spend time with poetry, various scriptures and teachings, and with the Holy. I remember those who faced the impossible with Love and Compassion at the center of their lives. I remember that Love's work is never done and that each day I am called once again to faithfully serve Love.

And here's the thing, if I'm not grounded in this way, I know I will burn out, that the pain and weight of the world will crush me, that I will turn toward anger and cynicism, and that I will become toxic to myself and those around me. The world is in need of some big changes, it's true; these changes won't come overnight; they will take time; there will be failures and heartbreak. And so we must have practices that sustain and strengthen our spirits, so that we can be grounded in faith as we work on behave of love and justice...or we'll be no good to anyone, anywhere, regardless of final outcomes.

What are your spiritual practices? How do you stay grounded and balanced in difficult times?


Jessica Wicks said...

My comment would take too much space, so I am responding with my own blog post. See:


Justin Schroeder said...

@Jessica - thanks for sharing your thoughts! Over the past few months, as I've explored having a stronger presence in the blogosphere and Twitterverse, I've really come to re-imagine what a "congregation" is and how ministry can come alive in the virtual world. So I guess what I'm saying is that even though I don't see you Sunday mornings, I am so grateful to connect in this virtual space. In faith, Justin