A People of Emergence

I love the spiritual significance of early spring: So much is in bud.

Here in the Chicago area, April is a time for daffodils and tulips but the symphony of spring comes in May and June. This past March, plenty of green stems began shooting out from the ground. But in April, much of creation is still in the stage of renewal, of formation, and anticipating transformation. The fallow time of winter begins to open into pregnant possibility and the emergence of a new life.

It may not be immediately apparent what all is in bud, especially in our own lives and community, but I encourage you to trust in the grace of life for beauty and new growth to unfold within and among us. May your participation in our community remind you that the path of emergence is about breathing not being better, patience not perfection, attention not improvement. We are capable of growth and change and becoming more skillful but it calls for the cultivation of the spirit.

Wherever you are on our life journey, it is important to begin with where you are at. Honesty is the first step on the path of emergence—and through practicing honesty and openness, we journey as a People of Emergence. When I began thinking about this theme, it seemed alien and far away from my experience. Feeling stuck in the winter of the soul, a voice suddenly called out from within, “Pray for emergence.”

Often emergence is preceded by a journey through the dark night of the soul or a journey through the valley of death. It is a natural part of the human journey to feel lost or despairing. If we are always feeling content and we see everything through rose-colored glasses, what need are we in of transformation? As the great spiritual Amazing Grace says, “I once was lost but now I’m found.”

As I get ready for the first part of my sabbatical—that begins on April 11—I am deeply grateful for this opportunity for personal fallow time. It will be a time for me to explore the theme of emergence and transformation over the next four months. So much has emerged among us in the last several years. So much growth, new ways of being a congregation, investment in the congregation, restored and new buildings, clarified mission and values, and now living ever more into our shared call, our shared adventure.

During the four months I am away, I will attend to my spiritual, emotional, and physical health while engaging in study, travel, and family time. In the coming months may you blossom as individuals and as a community. I pray that you all and I will gather back together in mid-August nourished, ready for the next chapter of our shared journey.