In a Holy Place
I missed you all this Sunday. I took a trip to nearby Moloka’i with some friends to do some camping. We were able to make use of some property a church owned. There was even a rickety old church piano in the corner of one of the rooms we could use. The sad, banished instrument needed a tuning, and some of the keys didn’t work at all, but you could get some chords out of it if you chose the right key for them.
One afternoon during some downtime I sat at the piano and started to play a familiar tune I thought people might know. As the opening strands of “Stand By Me” started to make their way from the instrument, some of my friends joined in right away to start singing. And in the second verse, the wife of one of my friends came into the room where we were. My friend’s face lit up when he saw his wife and he reached his hand out to her while still singing…If the sky that we look upon…. She smiled and took his hand just as he spun her around and then in toward his body…should tumble and fall…. And as he wrapped her up in his arms and smiled, all the while singing…or the mountains should crumble to the sea…I realized at that moment that we were together in a holy place.
No one thing makes a place holy. It is always a bundle, a combination of experiences that come together in ways we can’t always predict or in ways that are somehow meant to be. An out of tune, aging piano certainly isn’t going to do the trick on its own. And some bopping around the room with a partner in silence might not either. But when all the elements—music, singing along, a surprising entrance, an honest response, and just the right amount of trust and love—come together, the ways we are moved in those moments can stay with us for a lifetime.
When we do anything together as a community my greatest hope as your minister is that you are in a place that allows and welcomes a spirit of openness to the great mystery at the heart of what connects us to one another. That might look like worship to you. It might look like your chalice circle. It might look like helping to get the cars parked just right on a Sunday. But whatever it is we do together in this community we share…I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear, just as long as you stand, stand by me. And by doing this important work together, we might well know the beauty of reaching out to others, being wrapped up tightly in the loving embrace of our spiritual home, and uniting our voices together in this holy place we share.
And may it ever be so.