Our Quest for Faithful Presence

Dear St Luke’s,

This weekend, as you likely know I will be out of town but Pastor Mark and the Griffith family will be here.  Pastor Mark will be preaching, presiding, and facilitating our Community Forum.  And as if having the Griffiths wasn’t gift enough, Cheri has even arranged for Tommy Burton to sing with us.  Sunday is stacking up to be a beautiful day for our faith community.

Also, since this is Superbowl Sunday the men connected with Congregations for the Homeless who are staying in our building this month will have access to the building a little earlier than usual.  They will be back as early as 1:00PM so to they can have a Superbowl party together, how great is that?!  Special thanks to all who are helping to make this happen and even providing some snacks for their party.  Last I heard, there are still a couple of opportunities to make a meal for the men.

This week hasn’t all been all fun and games… or Super Bowl hype in this case. The week has been filled with the tragic news and images coming from the Republic of Turkey and Syria in the wake of the massive earthquake and its many aftershocks.  More than 21,000 people have died and so much destruction.  

On a personal level this seems to be “one of those weeks.” I’m having a hard time knowing which way is up. My regular rhythm is bit off. At home we’re navigating a death in my partner’s family. Thursday was the ten-year anniversary of the death of one of my mentors.  Then to top it off I got food poisoning on Wednesday night.  For me, it’s been one of those weeks filled with joy and sorrow. I often take comfort in the wisdom which says that suffering is not punishment and pleasure is not reward; both are simply part of life. While both are part of everyone’s experience the simultaneity of grief and joy can sometimes feel complex, or down right confusing.

I often go to poetry in such moments, and this week I found myself going back to a beautiful poem written by David Wagoner. 

As you may know David Wagoner was professor of poetry for many years at the University of Washington and was involved in the Hugo House and the MFA program of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island.  If you read much of his work you know the beauty of creation in the Pacific Northwest features prominently in his writing. 

As a part of attending to my unsettled feeling I found myself reading and rereading Wagoner’s poem “Lost.”  I find it to be so beautiful.  For a number of years Wagoner was invited to journey alongside a group of Coast Salish elders, and this particular poem emerged after listening to the elders offering instruction to some indigenous youth about what to do when they discover they are lost in the forest.  This week the wisdom of those Coast Salish elders is serving me well. 


by David Wagoner



Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

 I’ll be back the following Sunday. And we will be starting a new Community Forum series, titled, “Church Refugees: Listening with & Learning from the ‘Nones’ and ‘Dones’”

Always remember my friend, you are beloved, you are not alone, and you belong.

Peace, dwight