a week of many things

Our week in Pittsburgh has been many things: intense, exhausting, reviving, hopeful, infuriating, disappointing, healing.  The range of emotion and experience is wide, but in the end, I have faith that we have fulfilled our purpose for this time and place.

We have made our pink selves seen and known as unarguably joyful, peaceful, loving, Christ-like people in the midst of our complicated church family.

We have honored the tradition of singing together with only our voices as instruments, powered by breath and spirit and heart.

We have agreed to enter into conversation spaces in which understanding and connection do happen, where walls of fear and distrust begin to crumble, where love is true and the Spirit is present, but also where power is distributed unequally, where emotional and spiritual boundaries are crossed, and where words inflict pain that go unaddressed.

We have, whenever possible, responded lovingly to unfair accusations, to stares from a distance, to hurtful words, and to the painful silencing of our voice as members of MCUSA and as fellow children of God.

And most importantly, we have shared our stories with one another, forming spiritual bonds that no imperfect, human church can break and that no statement or teaching position can invalidate.

This week has brought many things into focus for me. It is my experience that when I find it difficult to accept something or someone, there is something within me that I am afraid of accepting.  Welcoming God’s love into my body, mind, and spirit is impossible anytime I hold onto the need to control, judge, or compare myself to another.  To truly love another in God’s example is to affirm and accept them just as they are, without judgment or self-serving advice.  I believe that my choice to Love another, to accept another unconditionally could never be judged as inappropriate, irresponsible, or sinful God who through the example of Christ’s life offered everyone radical, unselfish love.

I have found peace in my spirit, in part as a result of the many beautiful, spirit-filled moments of connection I experienced this week.  I have found healing and reconciliation here.  I have found willingness to offer my gifts to others and in the process have remembered a calling that was taken from me (or perhaps that I gave away out of shame).  I know the pain of separation, isolation, silence, shame, and fear.  I now know that not only can I see it in others, but through the gift of the Spirit, I can offer my ears, my voice, my story, and simply my presence to those who need, as I did for many years, to find their way back to God’s love.  And now that I know God’s love, I see that true Love really is unlimited.  Before, when I relied on human love, it seemed I could never get enough and I also had to guard how much love I gave out, for fear I would be empty in the end. This is what church is to me–a place in God’s palm where we can practice being present to our own needs while we also minister to one another, all the while growing closer in Spirit, Mind, & Body to the fulfillment of God’s creation in us.

May you know Love in your life.

(Bye, Bye Pittsburgh.)

6 comments on “a week of many things
  1. Jonathan Beachy says:

    Philip, we have never met, but your loving gentle spirit connects with this grandpa’s spirit, and with the Spirit who makes us one. Go encouraged, empowered, by the One who invites you to his table when some would turn you away. Breathe deeply of the breath of the Spirit (no one can take it away from you). Fill your lungs with that breath, and sing as you have this week, knowing that it that breath which makes your song possible–without it, your vocalization would totally other. Peace within and without!

  2. Deb Bergen says:

    thank you for your witness to Love, and being open to hear God calling. It’s an odd thing, following a call – scary not knowing how it will end, excited because of not knowing how it will end, a peace from things fitting together – falling into Love that has been breathing you from the beginning.

  3. Marty Troyer says:

    Great word. I appreciate having this reflection so quickly posted, from one who was highly involved in leadership.
    The 4th paragraph, which hinges on “but also” was a stunning word.

  4. Do not dismiss the power of being Present there and that is something in itself.You have left an imprint whether you realize or not.Your presence can validate another person so they know they are not alone,they are loved,they are supported.

  5. I wanted so much to come to the opening service at Smithfield UCC and to check in with the beautiful, courageous Pink Mennos, but could not make it. I did, however, get to meet on Pink Menno when I dropped an Oregon cousin off at the Megabus station at the Convention Center. Grateful for the YouTube videos!

  6. philipkendall says:

    Thank you Jonathan, Deb, Marty, Jane, and Jean. Your words of encouragement and hope feed my spirit. I’m so grateful to be part of a community of healing and hope, both in person at gatherings like in Pittsburgh and in spirit as we continue to share and connect despite the miles between us.

    May you know God’s love and peace today.