Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made
the promises is reliable. And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of
sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which
some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other.
--Hebrews 10:23-25a CEB
This week in the daily emails from the church I have been sharing reflections on Parker Palmer’s book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life. Palmer asserts that inside each of us is our “true self.”
Philosophers haggle about what to call this core of our humanity, but I am no stickler for precision. Thomas Merton called it true self. Buddhists call it original nature or big self. Quakers call it the inner teacher of the inner light. Hasidic Jews call it a spark of the divine. Humanists call it identity and integrity. In popular parlance, people often call it soul.
Throughout our lives we are forced to become internally divided in order to protect our true selves. We build a wall around our true selves, and sometimes that wall is so strong we lose track of our true selves altogether.
Some children, sadly, need this wall at home. Others do not need it until they get to school. But sooner or later, everyone needs a wall for the same reason, to protect our inward vulnerabilities against external threats.
More than discovering our “inner child,” Parker describes a journey we undertake to discover who we were originally created by God to be. He does not advocate a return to childhood, but rather finding an “adult wholeness” where we are no longer alienated from our true selves and manage a healthy interchange between our inner selves (who we were created to be) and outer selves (how we negotiate a world often hostile to our true selves).
Parker is clear that in order to discover our “adult wholeness” we need “spaces within us and between us that welcome the wisdom of the soul.” We need individual times of solitude and spiritual work as well as communal work in relationships of trust. This is where the church comes in; a healthy church equips us for our individual spiritual work and provides opportunity for communal spiritual work in worship and group study. During this pandemic, we all have had plenty of time to practice solitude and individual spiritual work, but the communal part is hard to come by, especially if you are in an at-risk group.
Even though it may take more effort and come with more frustrations, we neglect this communal spiritual work at our peril. Parker explains:
A strong community helps people develop a sense of true self, for only in community can the self exercise and fulfill its nature: giving and taking, listening and speaking, being and doing. But when community unravels and we lose touch with one another, the self atrophies and we lose touch with ourselves as well. Lacking opportunities to be ourselves sin a web of relationships, our sense of self disappears, leading to behaviors that further fragment our relationships and spread the epidemic of inner emptiness.
This is why even tuning in to PHCC’s Sunday worship livestream is so important. Even with all its inadequacies compared to the usual way of doing things, participating together and taking communion together matters, because we are maintaining our community of faith. Several folks have shared with me that they have trouble hearing what is said in worship—including my sermon—and I am sorry we are unable to improve the audio. However little or much you can get of the service, that you are tuning in with other church folks still matters
Another great way to connect spiritually with one another is happening after worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 PM. Mike Watson began a Sunday School class via ZOOM video chat originally for the Genesis class, but over the last few months members of other classes have joined in since their usual class is not meeting in person. The discussion and sharing abut one another’s life has been transformative. You are invited to join too!
I know from firsthand experience connecting with ZOOM can be intimidating at first. If downloading the app and connecting via video proves too troublesome, there is the option to simply dial in as if you are on a phone call. Folks won’t be able to see you or you them, but you will be able to hear the discussion and be heard by those taking part. If you can dial a phone, you can be a part of this Sunday School group. Everyone is welcome!
Unfortunately, COVID-19 does not appear to be going away soon, so please do not neglect this essential part of your spiritual life. Yes, sometimes technology offers a poor substitute to meeting in person, but any connection with your fellow church folks is better than no connection. Here’s the information on connecting with the Sunday School class at 10:30 AM Sundays:
to join via the ZOOM app or your web browser enter this information
Meeting ID: 549 438 8847
To dial in by phone, call this number and enter the meeting information when prompted
+1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 549 438 8847
I hope to hear you or see you via ZOOM this Sunday at 10:30 AM
Grace and Peace,