The Moment (written 07/13/2018)

posted Jul 30, 2018, 10:47 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

There is quite a whirlwind of wildlife activity around Coventry House these days. Baby blue jays, cat birds, nut hatches, and woodpeckers, that hatched from their shells in the spring, are now testing their wings, and foraging for their own food. Baby chipmunks are also scampering about, as well as little squirrels. Everywhere you look around Olivia’s Forest, there is new critter life, except for one category of animals that claim this space as their home. I’ve only spotted one fawn so far. None of the deer have brought their young ones to the backyard feeding station. I keep looking and hoping each time they arrive for their meal, but to no avail. Whenever Olivia, Nancy, or Lulu come up to eat I ask them, “Where are your babies? Bring me your babies so I can make them mine!”

And then I came across the following poem by Margaret Atwood.

The Moment

The moment when, after many years

of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose

their soft arms from around you,

the birds take back their language,

the cliffs fissure and collapse,

the air moves back from you like a wave

and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.

You were a visitor, time after time

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.

We never belonged to you.

You never found us.

It was always the other way round.

You own nothing.” Oh, how I smiled at the Holy Spirit’s whisperings. 

I didn’t find the creatures of the forest; they found me. The deer don’t belong to me; they belong to God. All who venture up for corn or birdseed have chosen to share a little slice of their world with me, not the other way round. With this poem, I was reminded to see the animals as pure, exquisite gifts from God as a demonstration of the Creator’s care and grace for all living things.

As I thought more on this poem and this lesson from the Spirit, something else occurred to me. We don’t find God; God finds us. God doesn’t belong to us; we belong to God. Again, what an exquisite and humbling gift from our Creator to be assured that there is nothing we can ever do to earn God’s love and grace. We simply have it because of the person and work of Christ. God found us the day we were born, and marked us as God’s child in our baptism. We never “found” God. It was always, and is always, the other way round.

One final observation. The other day I was walking the church property with a woman, and she remarked how peaceful it was, noting a bunny on the lawn and a deer across the way. I agreed, and said how welcome this place was to me after many years in frenetic NYC. I shared how I prayed to God for a new call, yearning to be out of the city and to serve a smaller congregation where I would know each person’s name and their story as they came forward for Communion. 

It was a long and hard voyage to get here, I told her, but I am constantly amazed that at the appointed time God gave me the desires of my heart: a beautiful church in the forest filled with loving and dynamic people. “Knowing at last how I got here,” I am grateful that God found me and continues to find me anew each and every day. Be assured, beloved one, we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

In gratitude for the privilege to be your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish