As most of you know this summer we FINALLY sold our house in Florida and purchased a house here in Davenport. When I first moved here two years ago, I brought with me just the minimal amount of things I needed to live. There were a few pieces of furniture and many, many books. It was enough, but it wasn’t complete. When we sold the house, we started sorting through the many boxes in the garage. Some of those boxes hadn’t been opened since we had purchased that house 9 years earlier. In some of the boxes we found some fond memories, including drawings our children had done when they were in grade school. In some boxes I found paid bills that were 10 years old. And so the process began of sorting. We shed unneeded things. We took a moment to appreciate nostalgic things and then we took pictures of them before throwing them out. There were some things which we couldn’t decide what to do with or agree on whether to throw out. For those items we deferred our decision and decided to continue to discern about them in Iowa. We threw out a lot of stuff. And now that everything has been delivered to our new house, as we unpack, we are deciding where everything fits in our new location. Everything old seems new again, and now each item will create new memories in our new house. In addition we have had to purchase a few new things to fit our new environment.
Much like moving, our religious lives often include ideas we have collected over the years. Some of them need to be shed. Some hold nostalgic value to us. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia. It can bring us comfort particularly in times of stress. But we need to remain aware that it is nostalgia, and not necessarily our current religious belief. There might be religious ideas we are just not sure about whether we believe or not. Discernment of religious belief is part of our journey here, where we provide the environment for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Part of that journey also includes being open to finding new awareness and understanding. New ways of thinking and being may come in the form of old ideas in a new environment, or with new ideas that we hadn’t encountered before. Some of you may come with many ideas to unpack, and others may have come here with minimal religious background looking for depth to build a complete religious life. As we enter into Fall there are numerous opportunities, including many Religious Education programs and Connection Circles, to help you unpack the past, discern the future, and live in the present moment. I hope to see you all there. If there is some form of religious education or spiritual practice that you are longing for that you have not found here, please do not hesitate to contact me.