Strange Grace

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In three weeks, Craig will be going back to California to teach, as financially, it’s not the time for him to retire. For a few weeks now, I have been waking around 4:00 am with a hefty bag of emotions to sift through. I toss and turn, hoping to return to sleep. But these last few days I’ve given in, crawling out of bed early to do some journaling. 

This morning, when I was writing away, heart and mind thick with feelings, I got a text from my friend, Katie, in Pennsylvania: “If you need to calm internally, sit with this song… put your headphones on and just sit. This is so beautiful and calming. This composer is brilliant. You might find it fun to read about him online. He does music for all kinds of cool experiences in nature.” (Song: ‘The Southern Sea’, by Garth Stevenson)

I wrote back: “It’s 5:00 am, and I am journaling out all my very LARGE emotions. And then I get this message from you….”if you need to CALM INTERNALLY…” And that made me laugh! Like what are you, clairvoyant?”

She responded: “Omigosh!!!! Whoa!! Well… you popped into my mind when this song was playing, and the message to send it your way was loud and clear.  I’ve wanted to send it to you for quite some time and I keep forgetting. I’m trying to REALLY LISTEN to my inner voice—right at the very beginning of the inner dialogue. What is that voice saying? What does that voice know at the very moment of thought initiation… before I try to reason away the message. Sooooo, I sent this song right away… Even though I knew it was early on your end. If I waited, I would forget. The energy was there, the inner voice was shoulder-tapping…”

What Strange Grace. 

Last night, Adam, Craig and I went to our favourite pizza place for dinner in Bellingham. Since both our kids are servers, we know a customer can make or break a shift, so we try to be a humanizing presence. This night, our waiter was top notch, a camera man from LA who had moved up to be with his girlfriend. We talked with him about favourite podcasts, climate change, living with angst in a world coming undone, cider and pizza pairing. He kept coming back and saying, “So, what are you covering now?” And we’d give him a little summary.

He was a muscular-looking guy, very intelligent, his arms covered with  intricate tattoos. He was also wonderfully blunt. When he called me out over a subtle facial expression I made regarding having moved around a lot, I said, “Woah. How did you do that? You just met me, and you noticed my Achilles heel. You should become a therapist.” And he said, “I think about becoming one every day of my life. I dropped out of school at 14. I did go back for my GRE, but I’m 38. It’s too late. But I think about it every day.”

“It’s not too late. Have hope!” we said. Craig told him about older students at Simpson and the adult completion degree program in Psychology at Simpson offered online. He took down Craig’s number on a piece of paper, then gave us two free ice cream cookies for dessert in return. In his parting words, he told us we had an amazing son who had been shaped by the rich variety of the places we’ve lived. (In other words, “Hold your head up. Be proud. Of him. Of yourselves.”) 

My, my. What Strange Grace. 

I am beginning to see that God companions us most commonly through one another. That we, collectively, become “God with skin on”, as we begin to listen and respond with courage, openness, vulnerability, and honesty to the deep wisdom within us and between us. As Donelda said to me on Sunday at “Outdoor Church”, God really is LOVE. And WHENEVER we witness LOVE, we are witnessing GOD.”  Kinship in unexpected places. Christ on our left and on our right. Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.

Deep peace and blessing,

Anne

Rev. Anne Baxter Smith, Pastor of the Church at Southpoint

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At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

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