Homage to Maine
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Although I had made on previous trip there years ago, it was for a stopover meeting which I barely remember. I saw nothing of what makes Maine such a glorious place to be.
Not so this weekend: over five days of travel with the Rev. Deb Blood, the Maine Conference Minister, we explored what she referred to as the margins of Maine.
In town after town, we sat with those engaged in the practice of ministry and the extravagant exchanges of love that change peoples’ lives.
South Portland, Bath, Pemaquid, the Acadia Forest, Bar Harbor, Bangor, Brunswick, Auburn, and Tir na Nog Farms were all stops along the way. We explored what commitments to love of neighbor and building a just world for all looked like. Deb took to calling it our Three Great Loves tour, after the mission campaign we have initiated inviting all our covenant partners to acts of love for children, for neighbor, and for creation.
The stories we heard at every stop were inspiring and deeply moving. At times, I was silently reduced to tears: the woman who collects quarters to give out every Friday night in the laundramat; the church in Bath that sold their building to buy a restaurant so that once a week they could bring in a chef and serve a high class meal to 84 homeless residents and on Sunday, in the same space, practice what the pastor referred to as ‘train wreck liturgy;’ the young associate pastor who heard of a homeless man freezing to death on the street who organized to have her church open for the next freeze so that they could gather in the homeless to sleep through the night; the UCC pastor/organic farmers (I met three of them) who are working to lower their carbon footprint while offering an alternative spiritual pathway to those who want to see their world change; the clinical psychologist/UCC pastor who offers to heal wounded LGBTQ residents who find their way to the safe space of his office; the 20/30 clergy group who, in spite of incurring massive debt, continue to engage in the practice of a ministry that doesn’t provide them with enough income to pay down that debt any time soon, and who continue to re-invent church as we know it because their passion for this won’t be extinguished by their debt.
Great love was evident everywhere we traveled, and testimonies to the difference that love made were easily and proudly shared.
It was a heart-warming exploration of witnessing love in action.
As spectacular as it was to witness this outpouring of love, it was just as spectacular traveling a countryside adorned with some of the most impressive scenery anywhere: mountains and forests, rivers and ocean, sea-side cliffs and trickling water-falls, colored leaves gently falling from the trees and riffled waves crashing over rocks all made the time passing in the car sacred time. From start to finish, everything about this trip was magical.
Gentle listener, I hope and pray your sojourns are as uplifting. As you travel you called path, may you encounter other souls committed to love and justice, compassion and peace. May the surprises of the creator’s imaginative hand take your breath away. And may you know the tender, warm embrace of your beloved sacred grace you as you make your way Into the Mystic.
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