A Different Path

I walk at least three miles, three times a week. I enjoy walking, attached my EarPods and listen to something meditating or walking to the stories of amazing Black women in history, offered by GirlTrek, “a national health movement that helps Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities, through walking”; I love this organization started by two powerful young Black women! I always walk the same route, simply because I know the path will get the mileage results I want. One day, I extended an invitation to my daughter to join me on one of my walks; I did not think she would accept because in reality I really enjoy walking by myself, but when she said yes, how could I say I was just joking, right?

We started walking my route, me leading the way. I turned my EarPods off so that I can be present with my daughter. Turning off the sounds in my ear to hear someone, something else, was difficult. I was so concern about getting my three miles in and I’m pretty sure this is all my daughter heard, me constantly saying, “I try to do three miles”, “Am I walking to slow?”, “We doing three miles okay?” Somewhere on my path, my daughter says to me, “Hey Mom”, let me show you the path I take. Me, “Will it get me my three miles?” My daughter responds, “It might.” Me, still worried her path will not get me where I needed to be.

Our view of life can sometimes lead us to stay on a path that is safe and one only we control. We allow no changes, no risk taking, no amusement rides. We experience the same environment, the same smell, the same routine, because it is easier. Or is it because we may be afraid to walk a different path because different makes us uncomfortable. Maybe it’s time to venture out and check out a different path, still moving towards your results, but just being open to a universe with so many possibilities that leads you to where you believe you need to be.

On the path my daughter charted out for us, in our same neighborhood, I discovered a street layered with trees that draped like canopies. I saw homes a block away from ours, that had amazing windows where the sunshine sparkled against them and sent a ray of gold down the middle of the street, making us feel like we were were walking down a yellow brick road. I was not aware so much beauty lived just around the corner. On this different path, I discovered something new about myself. I learned that I can’t do life alone. I must share my path with others, as they share with me, walking sometimes in different directions, but appreciating the path we all have chosen. Yes, I got the result I needed. We walked three miles, but that day, I experienced my daughter’s path and it was beautiful!

Take a different path, even in your own backyard. Discover something new about yourself, about your love ones, your neighbors, about this world. We are all trying to get to that same place – a place of love, a place of acceptance, a place of belonging.

Happy Trails! Be blessed my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

I love church….but sometimes??

Last Sunday I went to church. I wasn’t exactly excited about going. I did go out of responsibility and unfortunately that was about it. Church for me has become a difficult journey. I don’t know why or maybe I do and don’t want to admit that in this adult life, church is not what my mother told me it is, a place to welcome you and to love on you and to get saved. Really… my mom didn’t say to welcome you or to love on you (I thought maybe that would just make me feel better) but she did say to get saved. But still there is something that I quite can’t put my hands on. No, I’m not excited about going to this place but when I’m there, preaching, worshiping, praying, I so enjoy seeing people happy, smiling and letting them know that they matter.

Throughout church service with the choir singing and people sharing their hopes and pains, it is all so beautiful until the call “to be saved”. I could not shake the uneasy feeling I had that something wasn’t right about this. People who gathered into church came because of a number of reasons. Some that I can think of are to be part of a community, some seeking to find forgiveness, some who are seeking to be loved, some seeking to get into a heavenly realm, some I guess seeking to be saved because they believe themselves to be unworthy. But “being saved” seemed to be the only reason the church exist. And on that thought is where I find church difficult.

What would happened if all Christian churches would take people as is and not define them needing to be saved, but instead needing to be accepted and loved?! What would happened if people were able to walk into a church and breathe and not fear because the world is scarier enough to deal with?! What would happened if the church decides that all who walks through the door has no judgement but only the opportunity to become whole?! What would happened?

And what are we being saved from? Or saved to? And will God only love me if I get saved? I don’t remember Jesus ever saying anything about this to the point where we put so much emphasis on it that the church only becomes concerned about one’s salvation so you can go to heaven….until then…well… you’re on your own!

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

This is not a call for individual salvation….this is a call for community salvation. And eternal life is not something we look to experience after death but living life fully now, living life with hope and assurance, with love and acceptance. I mean is the church really just saving for the “way up yonder” moment and the right now doesn’t matter?

As I’m writing this, I just happened to see someone on a website holding up a sign saying, “Repent or Go go Hell!” Ugh!!

Yes, we seek God to enter our lives….all of what our lives look like. ALL OF WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE…and I truly believe God can handle what that looks like! God transforms, not the church. The church, the ecclesia, the community supports…not damage.

I’m at a point in my life, as a preacher of the Gospel, as a sister of humankind, as a wife and mother I want to greet all those who enter into the church and welcome them, hug them and let them know they are saved from ridicule, judgement and self-doubt. I want them to know that God has always been with them. I want them to know that God loves them, relax and just breathe. And that the community, the ecclesia, seeks salvation along with them and God will provide that for us all.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Breathe!