A couple of weeks ago our ninth grade soon-tobe confirmed youth attended a Pre-Confirmation Retreat at our Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, Illinois. Among other things, they hiked, they experienced the zip-line, and they walked a prayer labyrinth for the first time.
Now if you haven’t experienced a prayer labyrinth, here is how the dictionary defines it: “an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way or to reach the exit.” Some would say that in the case of a prayer labyrinth, these unpredictable twists and turns are a metaphor for life itself — and that as one walks and prays, eventually one finds one’s way to the center. And God is always at the center of our lives. (If you want to experience a labyrinth, check out the one in Huntley Park on South Third Street right here in DeKalb. Take the time to walk it slowly. Let the rhythm of your movement quiet your mind as you listen for God.) While walking a labyrinth is not part of my regular practice, however, when I have made the time to do so, I find it slows me down and opens me up in ways nothing else does.
When our ninth graders were done walking and praying a few weeks back, they sat down together. And suddenly they were inundated with butterflies. These tiny signs of resurrection and new life were landing everywhere — including on each of them. Thinking of that, I am reminded of Psalm 23 — especially that verse which we know as “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6) A truer translation for that is “Surely goodness and mercy shall chase after me all the days of my life…” Oh yes, it is so that sometimes I simply have to slow down enough to be caught by butterflies. Often, I just need to stand still long enough for God’s goodness and mercy to catch up with me! This is a busy time in the world as we wind up summer vacations and as school begins again. We are also embarking on a busy season here at First Lutheran Church.
For us, September brings the start of Sunday School, Crosswalk Wednesday and a reconfigured Confirmation Program.
We are kicking off a new emphasis on the work of Lutheran World Relief on September 13 when we all have a chance to participate in God’s Work with Our Hands as we contribute our efforts to assembling school kits and fabric kits and assembling quilts.
We look forward to conversations about Human Sexuality and how we as a congregation are to live in the midst of a changing world.
At the end of the month we will offer a first gathering of a Grief Support Group for those among us who struggle with loss.
And much more. Indeed, be sure to read the rest of this newsletter to see where and how you might be called to participate!
In the midst of this busy season it would certainly be easy to ‘miss the butterflies.’ It would be far too easy to not notice the “Goodness and Mercy” of God trying to catch up with us! Indeed, as you are able in the days and weeks to come, make the time to slow down for just a moment. Take a walk on a beautiful early autumn day. Even make your way to a local labyrinth if you’re able. Know that through it all, God IS at the center waiting to overwhelm you with amazing gifts — not unlike a cloud of butterflies landing on our ninth graders a few weeks ago!
Peace to you and many blessings,