Begin Again. The voice of Joseph Goldstein echoes in my head.
This summer, after a recommendation from one of our parishioners, I subscribed to an app on my iphone called 10% Happier. The apps tagline is “find calm, insight, and sleep” and it bills itself as helping you “build the skills you need for a more resilient, happy mind.” I started with the a set lessons entitled “The Basics” which featured world renowned meditation teacher, Joseph Goldstein. One of Goldstein’s most salient points in the series of lessons was employing the phrase, “begin again.”
If you’re familiar with meditation practice you know that it involves taking time to center yourself and sort of clear your mind. Typically this includes sitting still somewhere, closing your eyes, and trying to focus on something like your breath. Sounds simple enough until you try it. For many of us, our “mediation” time can turn into a time of thinking about this and that. We are easily distracted and let our mind wander from the task at hand – the task of focus and presence. What was great about Goldstein’s teaching was that he offered no judgement about the wandering – instead, he just offered the helpful phrase Begin Again. Once you notice you are wandering, refocus and begin again.
The Sunday after Labor Day is traditionally when our church begins again. We may have wandered over the summer or gotten distracted, but on the Sunday after Labor Day, the first Sunday after school is supposed to start we gather together, we have a celebration, and we begin again.
This year, though… This year is not the same and we might find ourselves wondering – what does it even mean to begin again when we can’t do things the way we’ve always done them.
We cannot just begin again – this year we have to begin again anew. And beginning again anew will require us to be creative. It will require us to do things that have never been done before, to walk forward into the unknown.
The good news is that the Bible story in the beginning of Genesis affirms that we can do this. And not only can we do this – we were made for this. God created the heavens and the earth and all that lives and dwells here. The Common English Translation Genesis 1:27 says, “God created humanity in God’s own image.”
We are created in God’s own image – so we have to take a moment to stop and say, well who/what is God?
Well, in the verses that precede Genesis 1:27, all God does is create things. God creates day and night, sky and seas, earth, vegetation, animals. God creates things. And each time God finishes creating things, Genesis tells us – God saw it was good. God creates things and creating things is good.
We are created in God’s own image. God creates. God has created us to create. God has created us to begin again anew.
Right now, we many of us are craving to return to the ways things used to be done. We are craving what was already created. But right from the beginning we were created by God to create.
So as we the calendar tells us that it is time to begin again, this year I invite you to consider beginning again anew. Instead of just settling back into familiar routines and ways of being together – imagine possibilities. How is God calling us to create at this time and in this place? As you try to focus on possibilities that we have yet to bring to fruition – you may find your mind wandering. You may find it taking you back to the place where we usually begin in September, the place that is familiar and comfortable. That’s ok. No need to judge or feel badly. But when you notice what you’re doing – just remember the words, begin again anew and refocus. We were made for this.