Rich spreading his mom’s ashes in the Coachella Valley
The week between Christmas and New Year’s feels unique among the weeks of the year. The busyness of the Christmas season has come to an end, and the New Year has not yet begun. For most of us, it is a pause, a week where schedules have not resumed, and it is possible to rest and potentially to reflect on the year that is ending and look forward to the year ahead.
A verse from Jeremiah 6:16 challenges us to:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
As we look back at 2023, what were some of the ‘good ways’ we can be grateful for:
- We were able to resume in-house dining at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen where Rich serves on Tuesdays. One of Rich’s opportunities each week to gather leftover food from a Christian Conference Center and deliver it to the soup kitchen to provide the foundation for the ‘soup du jour’ and side dishes served 5 days a week to those who are hungry in Santa Cruz.
- There are now 2 solid teams of volunteers going in weekly to Santa Cruz County jail to meet with men in Unit P. The team had the privilege of baptizing one of the consistent group members in December before leaving county jail to serve out the remainder of his sentence in state prison.
- The team going to Soledad prison has increased their frequency to two times a month. There too, is a consistent group of men who look forward to the opportunity to gather, reflecting on a gospel passage, a time in silent meditation and sharing life with the team. A particular joy has been to see the natural leaders among the inmates continue to step up to lead (something that enabled them to continue to grow as a group during the long Covid shutdown).
- Jayne has been able to continue to meet with individuals and small groups for spiritual direction, times of listening to God with other’s and noticing and paying attention to where God has been present and where desires for intimacy with God can be noticed and affirmed.
- There have been several opportunities to walk with people who have found themselves in crisis in work, in relationships and in life transitions; to help them listen for the ancient paths, to ask where the good way is and to encourage them to walk in it.
- We celebrated as an extended family the long life of Rich’s mom Eloise who died in September just 2 months shy of her 100th birthday. Eloise was celebrated in the church they had been part of for almost 50 years.
- The opportunity to see life once again through the eyes of our 2-year-old grandson on a consistent basis. To hear the invitation of Jesus to become childlike, to let go of expectations and simply to see and celebrate what is in front of us.
In this week in-between, a period that we often refer to as liminal space or a threshold space we are truly “standing at the crossroads”. As we look toward 2024, what invitations are we experiencing looking towards the New Year? Where are the places that we are looking for the ancient paths, the good way and how are we discerning what those invitations, paths and good ways are? These are important questions if we hope to find ‘rest for our souls.” Let us each take the time to pause, take the time to look, take the time to listen.
Rich and Jayne