Angels and Saints … and Gresh Hall

Attended Rev. Ken Beldon’s final message as a minister for WellSprings Congregation, and walked out with all the emotions.

Ken  shared his greatest hits. A mixture of messages and stories he has shared previously. Closed with The Waterboys’ song Angels and Saints.

This is a wide world we travel

And our paths rarely cross

And we do a whole lot of living

In between 

So come and share

More than time

We’ll put our cares

Far behind

While we sail

The ship that never goes to sea

It could be months

It could be years

Before we find each other

Once again standing here

So until then my friend

I have a wish for you

Many hearts

To keep you warm

Many lights

To guide you through the storm

And may the saints and angels

Watch over you

And may the saints and angels

Watch over you

And may the saints and angels

Watch over you

The thing that stuck with me was when Ken said WellSprings as a spiritual community lives in the valley, not the mountain.  and that I mentioned to him afterward, was that the value of spiritual practice is its ordinariness, the way that it suffuses our everyday lives with purpose, and solace, and presence. 

And I was reminded of something Virginia and I had realized, that for all the places we’ve gone with Rev. Ken – Washington DC, Philadelphia, Haiti — the lessons that have stuck and been most useful were learned in participating and co-leading mindfulness classes with him at Gresh Hall. The one example that came to mind was this: we were settling in for a pretty extended time of mindfulness practice, maybe 30 minutes, when out of nowhere the two 3D printers situated in the library room sprung to life. If you have never heard one, they sound like the steroid-infused dot matrix printer from hell. They literally screech.

As they started, I expected Ken to say, “OK, let’s move to another room.” But no. He said something to the effect of “work with it.” And so I worked through my anger and exasperation and finally got to a point where I could hold the noise at arm’s length and take it in without a whole lot of my own commentary. It was never pleasant, but it stopped being about me.

That was the lesson. And it was one I needed, because this specific thing would happen again, and more generally — there are many times the sounds of the world and from my own head are just as distracting as the 3D printers in Gresh Hall. Being unemployed can throw off a lot of noise. Having serious heart disease can throw off a lot of noise. Adult children bring a lot of noise. Relationship in general creates noise. And being able to separate from it, to hold it at a distance, to evaluate what is the thing and what is the noise, what are the stories that I and others are telling me about the thing, that has been an immeasurable benefit in my life.

And that is totally about living in the valley, not on a mountain.

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