Homecoming, Hope-coming

Just three weeks ago I began a new placement here at Clayton Wesley and The Spire Community.  After years as a chaplain in aged care, in prisons and in hospital, it feels a like a homecoming… as if this is the placement I’ve been waiting for.  As if all the places and people and stories and moments in ministry that have gone before were leading me and preparing me for here.

I say homecoming, because home is where you can be yourself, where you can be known and understood, seen and heard, a place where comfort and shelter and encouragement and family can be found.  A place of honesty and acceptance, where folks are valued.

And I’ve seen some of that here already.  Today I looked around Goodies and Hope’s Café at people eating and talking and browsing, making art or music, working and sharing.  Volunteers and visitors, friends and regulars, and first-timers who may become new friends in the days ahead.  There was such a strong feeling of community.

And that makes me hopeful.  Because I know how life can sometimes feel like subtraction – a taking away, a growing list of the things we lose: our youth, time, opportunities, friendships – but this Spire community is adding back in.  Restoring some of what we may have lost.  Giving us something new.  Giving us each other.

It’s a place of home and a place of hope.

St Paul said these words: “And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.  It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.  Never be without it.”   St Peter said these words: always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

And there you have it: wear love and give reason for hope.

That’s what I’ve tried to do everywhere I’ve served as chaplain or minister: wear love and give reason for hope.  That’s what I see the folks in The Spire Community doing.

For some folks, Sunday church is their focus – and for sure, I’d love to see the church on Sunday full of people: I tell everyone, “Come as you are, and know that God loves you!  Let me tell you about that love…”

But there is also holy ground to be found every day here at Clayton Wesley, when we share our stories, lay out the threads of our lives before each other, when we listen, when we help each other, when we give our time, when we make space for another person to feel safe, included, wanted.  When we don’t know the answers, but can be comfortable with the questions.  When we smile.  When we give a helping hand, meet over a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee.  When someone remembers our name.  When someone remembers our story, and knows the weight of the words we can’t say.  In the ups and the downs of our lives: holy ground.

For me, a homecoming, and a hope-coming.  My hope is that this community would continue to thrive and grow.  And I’ll be here, along with Rebecca and Michelle and all the others, to help and to listen, to offer a shoulder, to encourage and to serve.  Above all, to wear love, and give a reason for hope.