AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Beth Nelson
I am compelled to begin with this: Y’all, how great is Keith Jennings?? I lost count of how many little gold nuggets he dropped on us Sunday morning. Thank you, Keith, for sharing with us and challenging us and letting the Spirit “come in and go out” through you.
We now return to our usual AfterWords programming.
(Get it?? Going and returning? Rhythms?)
Several years ago, on a summer morning, our family set out on an adventure. After years of spending summer vacation at the beach, and loving it, and having every day of the entire trip perfectly crafted to a science, we scrapped it all and went the other direction—west. Flying into Las Vegas was itself very nearly more adventure than I bargained for, and after loading our little family into a very large RV, we continued on toward that bastion of family memories, the Grand Canyon.
It’s where my mind’s eye flashes, to this day, when I think of “adventure.” Even more so now, reflecting on Keith’s observation that the rhythms of life often oscillate between rest and risk.
Sticking with the beach we know, and flying out to the Wild West.
Staying and going.
Dwelling and venturing.
It’s etymology time.
ad = Latin for “toward”
aventuren = Middle English for “chance, risk, wonder”
Our “ad-ventures” move us toward chance and risk. And—come on, say it—toward wonder.
The rhythms of coming in and going out are reflected in the most elegant way by our breathing, which does the same. Of course the Spirit would do it like this, the Spirit who reminds us of all Jesus said and taught, the Spirit that is Breath itself.
Take a few moments now and listen to your breathing again, as we did Sunday morning. Listen for the yahh-wehh sound. In order to hear well, you may need to give your mind and body and environment time to become silent. Set a timer, perhaps, for three minutes (or five!), just to breathe and listen.
And could it be that the silence itself is an adventure, moving us toward risk? Silence is risky. We keep the radio going in the car, or the news on TV in the next room, or saying more words to the person we’re with, because it’s weird when it’s silent. But we don’t take risks that lack an upside, do we? What might the upside be to that risky silence? Could it be comfort? Peace? Rest? Risk and rest. The rhythm continues.
Go in the comfort that “the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:8)