Growing Together in Vision
I believe that Kierkegaard’s observation that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” is a gift. It frees us to live, to determine our own paths, to take risks and to trust the future…Only I can know which is my way forward. Only you can know which is your way forward. But we can support one another in our choices. We can tell the stories and speculate about the meanings. And we can offer thanks that in the mystery of life’s never-ending unfolding, possibility abounds for redemption, for surprise, for joy, for love’s irresistible embrace. – Rev. Lisa Doege
Reading for Reflection
An excerpt from her column “From Your Minister” by Rev. Meg Riley, in Quest: A Monthly for Religious Liberals, July/August 2013
In the dream, I am alone in a round stone tower. I do not want to be there, but I am trapped in its dark, damp, cold, airless space. And then, almost in a whisper, comes a soft voice, “Keep looking…there is a door….” And suddenly the door is there. I can see light, I can walk out. I am not trapped anymore.
Vision is what gets me out of the trap. The one with the voice knows that in what looks like a solid stone wall, there is actually a doorway. This is a dream fragment, but I have experienced the relief of finding my way out of many airless, closed rooms in waking life as well, because someone else could see a door I could not.
These are the people with vision: the ones who see doors where others see only walls. The people with the boldest vision are the ones who actually walk through those doors that they see, beckoning to the rest of us who are back in the tower to see that we, too, could choose to walk out into the day.
I remember the first time I experienced this kind of leadership. I was in a justice-centered group which was sadly off-track, mired deeply into a fight—a fight complete with sides and self- protective armor rapped around most folks to protect them from judgments as sharp as swords. And then, as we suffered in that cramped airless tower, one bold woman threw open a door that none of us had known was there. The key for opening it was to clearly state her grief at what was going on, and to state how sincerely she wished it were different. Where we saw sides, she saw a roomful of people she loved, all of whom were suffering.
Was it her sheer bold loving, or our respect for her as an elder in the organization, or were we all just weary of fighting and looking for a door? I’ve revisited that moment many times and I still don’t know why her words changed everything. I only know that suddenly the solid stone wall had a door in it, and the whole lot of us tumbled through it—everyone’ s anger turning to tears, longing, remorse. Once that door was open it was clear to us all that the anger was longing in disguise, a longing for connection and acceptance and to be respected. A longing shared by all, because suddenly we saw ourselves as she saw us—a roomful of beloved people, suffering…
What does it take to be similarly bold, to trust and name what we see, whether others see it or not?
“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why…. I dream of things that never were, and ask, why not?” This quote from Robert Kennedy, Jr. was on my bulletin board when I was in Junior High, and to some extent it still exemplifies my greatest hope for my own life. What about you? What do you see that others don’t? What do you dream of? What is your vision? What door do you see that others have missed, and how will you help them to walk through?”
Let us go forth into the world through a door of hope for the future, remembering these words by Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” So may it be with us. – Marjorie Newlin Leaming