I have just returned from our Unitarian and free Christian General Assembly Annual meetings in Swansea. I had a wonderful time, there was a great shared atmosphere this year. I suspect that this had a lot to do with the warmth of welcome offered to us by the Welsh Unitarians. I have to say that they are just the loveliest of people. Beautiful souls, I can see why they say that Wales is God’s country (I said country not county... we all know that Yorkshire is God’s county).
During my time there I went for an occasional walk on the beach, which conveniently for many of us was across the road from where the meetings were held. I have come to love the sea in recent times; perhaps one of the reasons is that I don’t get to see it very often. When I do it fills me with awe. I love staring out to sea and witnessing its vastness and its simple power. It fills me with awe; it is both awesome and awful. The people of Japan have in recent times experienced how awe-fully powerful it can be. It certainly humbles me, in its power and beauty.
I have been reading a lot of Forrest Church's writings over the last few months. His work has both held and inspired me, during my first steps into ministry. Every morning, after a short period of prayer and meditation, I read for half an hour. This sets me up for the day; it opens me up to whatever life has to offer. I often read something by Forrest, but not always. One of Forrest’s messages, that continually rings in my ears, is that the key to truly religious living and spiritual balance in openness and humility. Therefore by humbly accepting that we cannot fully answer the mysteries of life, death, the universe and everything we can begin to fully experience the joy of living and can be open to the voice of transcendence that never stops communicating.
I have practised staying open to this voice during the din of the annual meetings and from time to time I have heard and witnessed its beauty. That said I have not always followed what it has suggested I have from time to time got lost in other things. I have said and done things that were not as loving as they could be. This is ok, I am human and hopefully no one expects me to be perfect. “Progress not perfection” is a phrase, from another source, that is sustaining me in my ministry and it is a voice that I keep on hearing. I believe that it is a voice that we all need to keep listening to in every area of our lives. It is both loving as well as encouraging and it rises above the din of those who may say either you, or we are not good enough.
“I dream of the ocean and the beautiful skies rolling out to sea
I dream of the ocean and the rip of the tide west of Finnistair
The weight of the water pouring down, holding on to me
I dream of the ocean, rising, rising” Lyrics of “Ocean Rising” by New Model Army