Re-Inventing Myself 04.27.2020
On a dew-covered, warm Sunday morning, in the summer of 1981, the young Preacher gingerly mounted the pulpit and softly delivered a heartfelt sermon to his congregation. Mostly made up of civil servants, academics and, entrepreneurs, the worshipers listened, intently, as the charming preacher spoke, as it were, from the heart.
His delivery was as lively and smooth as it always was and punctuated, as he was wont to do, with anecdotes, musings and, deep wisdom distilled over a long career as a priest, an academic, a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a leader and a pioneer.
He spoke, haltingly, and with bold but measured tones. He spoke as he gestured with his hands across the congregation and across the chapel to extant places much like Moses, gesturing to his people. He preached, not so much to the congregation as to himself. He spoke with the mindset and wisdom of a man who had experienced his fair share of joys, blessings and, challenges of his earthly sojourn. Above all, he spoke as a minister called both by volition as well as the still small voice, to announce glad tidings and bring warnings to the Lord’s people.
Looking into his eyes, there was that sober look of deep concern. That fleeting yet embedded wall of determination to find a way, a new way, that dogged passion for righting wrongs and making a fresh start. That indomitable spirit of starting life all over with new opportunities and anew gusto.
He spoke of never letting an opportunity go to waste.
A new minute. A new hour. A new day. Week. Month. Year. A new opportunity. A new challenge. A new friend and even, a new foe. Fresh starts and the constant search for a new and better self.
He was at pains to point out that we are often presented with a new chance to begin again, reshape who we are and, live better, more fulfilled lives.
His preaching was personal. It was also ecclesiastical. It was intense, too. Through that sharing, he touched many hearts. Through his words, he fired up not just the imagination but, also, a determination. A personal movement. A crusade. An intifada.
It wasn’t just about re-inventing oneself. It was also about self-acceptance with a mindset for betterment. The only constant, he intoned, is change.
As he walked, gently, down the stairs of the pulpit to resume his seat upon his conclusion, he floated with a mixture of unburdened triumph and sombre reflection. Everything stopped.
Normally, the organist would strike up a chord and the choir, such as it was, would bellow out a tune to usher in the next phase of the Sunday service.
On this day, however, heads were bowed, noses were blown into kerchiefs and the younger ones shuffled uneasily. There was a shared aura in the midst of the people. We must begin again. The silence was singularly unnerving and in some strange way, welcome.
I squinted my eyes at the frosted glass door panels. I could have sworn I saw the silhouette of a splintered cross floating therein. I had sauntered in late just before the sermon started. I had to quickly take cover behind the south gate.
When the warden finally broke the silence, we were all jolted back to reality and away from our private soliloquy. The grownups regarded each other with a new perspective…or so, it seemed. There was a new fresh scent in the air. Even Pedro, the Warden’s wife’s Alsatian dog muffled some barks as he wagged his tail. Normally, he was wont to sleep through the whole service.
And so, here we are in the middle of a pandemic. A chance to begin again. However, the wind blows, we must retain and act on the spirit of that message. To begin again…to do…what we must to preserve that which is right about us and build that which elevates us.
To forgive. To love. To accommodate. To tolerate. To be kind. To correct. To accept.
To re-invent oneself. To start a new hobby. To start a new friendship and to conquer new heights. To give us what we do need and embrace what we have and, above all, to be ready for the emergent set of opportunities, however, disguised.
This is the essence of beginning again. This is the spirit of self-re-invention.
Like the spirit of the Lotus flower which is is born in murky waters yet, rises, each day, soaring upwards to the sun to remain pure and clean – overcoming its surroundings to inspire. It re-invents itself each day in spite of its surroundings.