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Racine, WI 53405

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Renewal Through Community

Perhaps it seems too early to talk about renewal, since we’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and we probably will not be in the clear for a long while yet. But it seems to me that every day is precious, and as a friend said this week, “Quarantining is not an excuse for not participating in life!” So, we can choose (because it is always a choice) to focus on the negative and what we can’t do and can’t have and the plight of the world, or we can focus on the renewal and rejuvenation of our souls, because somehow as we're decrying the effect of the pandemic on education, jobs, finances, healthcare and more, we've forgotten what it is doing to our souls. We'll begin by focusing on Renewal Through Community

My brother, Gary, has one child, Declan, who is now almost 11. He’s a wonderful, bright, creative boy who has always been a bit of a handful. They’ve been lucky to have Declan’s grandparents visit for a number of weeks every year. When I’ve asked Gary how he felt about having his in-laws around for extended periods of time, he told me about Declan's bucket. Bascially he said this, "We’ve come to understand that Declan has a Love Bucket that he needs to have filled. When it isn’t filled he gets very needy and demanding of attention. It’s great to have his grandparents around because they help to fill up Declan’s bucket."

It seems to me that we each have a bucket from which we pour out ourselves in our relationships, our jobs, our volunteer work, caring for our homes, caring for our grandchildren, our parents, our partners, our children, and more. Sometimes we pour out too much, and sometimes life kicks over our buckets and we lose pretty much all of what is in them. To renew our souls and our very selves, we need to refill our buckets.

We tend to think of solitude, quiet time and rest as being the only ways to renew our souls. But I believe that spending time with a healthy community offers a special way of refilling and renewing that being alone doesn’t quite do.

There are all different kinds of communities – church, neighborhoods, families, work, friends, social media, and clubs, for example. And I believe that communities can be either healthy or unhealthy (or anywhere on that continuum). It seems to me that the healthier the communities are that we associate with, the more they will renew us. 

A healthy community is a place we can go and speak what is in our hearts without fear of reprisal. A place we can trust others to receive us with open arms. A place where people light up and are happy when they see us. It is a place that celebrates us when we shine and holds us when we stumble. It is a place we are free to be ourselves and still be accepted. A healthy community fills our buckets with caring, strength, laughter, hope, compassion and love. It also gives us new perspectives, helps us focus on our spirituality, and gets us out of our heads for a while.

Matthew 18:20 reads, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.” Yes, where two or three of us have gethered, the Spirit flows through us in all the ways I just named. 

Once there was a bird that was the most magnificent creature in the world. It had a wingspan greater than anyone had ever seen. It had every color imaginable, bright blues and pinks and reds and purples. It was truly a thing of beauty. In fact, it was so beautiful that when it flew into a certain village, the king was struck with awe. Day after day he would watch this bird fly about the village and know that he was seeing the most beautiful thing in the world.

One day, the king decided he wanted the bird for himself, for he knew that if he captured it he would have in his possession the most beautiful thing in the world So the next day he ordered his villagers to capture the bird and bring it to him. The villagers wanted very much to please the king, but that day the bird perched atop the highest tree in town.

The king, seeing their frustration, ordered them to build a human ladder in order to reach the bird. The villagers agreed, and the largest and strongest men got down on their hands and knees and ordered their neighbors to climb on their backs. And so it went, one after the other climbed onto the backs of the next until they nearly reached the top of the tree. They needed one more person, so the smallest child in the village carefully climbed up the backs and shoulders of all who came before her until she reached the very top, right opposite the bird. The child reached for the bird…

…but the bird flew away. The villagers were very sad because they had wanted so much to please their king. They didn’t want to face him now that they had failed. But instead of finding the king disappointed or angry at them, they found him with a huge smile on his face and a tear in his eye. He said to the villagers, “I’m sorry. I thought that if I could have that bird, then I would possess the most beautiful thing in the world. But watching you work together, creating a crazy human ladder all because you care about me and wanted to make me happy, made me realize that I already have the most beautiful thing in the world – all of you.”

There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than people who care for one another. Celebrate your communities, spend time with them. Work to keep them healthy for the renewal of your soul and for the renewal of so many, many weary souls right now. 

Love & Light!

Kaye