3 Jun

When I was at the Uniteen overnight a couple weeks ago we did a exercise where we said “I’ll never forget…” and filled in the blank. I shared an experience that has become an essential part of my way of understanding the world. I thought I’d share it here with commentary.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.

It is a place that is beautiful wherever you look.

This is a picture from the road I took a zillion times going between my best friend Zeb’s and my house when I was in high school. (photo borrowed from Zeb)

But following dreams and in search of adventure after college I moved to Chicago. In October. Right after the Cubs lost their chance at the World Series (big surprise I know ;-)) So it was a bleak

and getting bleaker time to move to a new place, let alone a huge concrete city. There was a lot going on in my life

for sure, but it felt like a very cold, dark, unfriendly place as the winter wore on.  I missed mountains and ferryboats.

The beginning of spring came along and I was seeing concrete. Then one day I’m walking home and I saw it, a little white flower poking through the sidewalk.

WOAH! it hit me there in that moment.

Back home in Washington it was easy to see and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world. This flower came along to remind me that just because it’s not obvious doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

Life is beautiful and will push on regardless of any seeming barriers. (this is not the flower in Chicago, I took this in San Diego and has long been a reminder to me of that experience)

So then I decided to love Chicago for what it was, not what it was missing. I would remind myself of the flower and know I had to deepen my faith instead of relying on it being easy to trust in the beauty of God

Then I moved out here to Missouri. Sigh, another adjustment. While being at Unity Village was wonderful the  suburban nature of Lee’s Summit was so not working on my psyche. Then a local group of NGUers went on a mini retreat at the Light Center outside of Baldwin KS. (which is south of Lawrence KS) The Light Center is a beautiful rustic place set in the woods. We participated in a sweat lodge and slept in a yurt. We explored the woods and we saw creeks and hills and lots of woods, and this is where I learned to be ‘good’ with MO/KS. (this pic is one I took on our adventure) Somehow knowing a place as serene as the Light Center existed less than 2 hours away gave me the boost I needed to accept that I didn’t need mountains, evergreen trees or large bodies of water to make me happy.

My happiness comes from a choice I have made to see look for the beauty that is there instead of the things that are missing. Maybe this is partially why I take so many pictures, it reminds me of how wonderful the world is when we appreciate the small blessings instead of needing a mountain. (literally or figuratively)

Now, people ask me where I am going to go when I get ordained. (like I could really know what community would be ripe for me to serve in 2 years) Because of these experiences, I have decided that I could get used to and appreciate just about anywhere. (I do have some lines, but I suppose most anything is negotiable)

What I now know is that the beauty of a place is in the eye of the beholder. Change your perspective, change your life.

As Mister Rodgers always said, “it’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood”



(PS, those are the San Juan islands behind me in 2009)


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