Where I Belong

Last Friday it was announced that Jonathan and I would be speaking next month for the TED Women 2018 event in Palm Springs.  We have known we were speaking since July, and we’ve been working on our talk since August.

Last year I had the privilege of speaking at TEDxMileHigh, one of the largest TEDx events in the world. (TEDx events are licensed by TED, but independently organized.)  That video has been viewed over 1.5 million times and has brought a lot of speaking opportunities all over the US and Europe.  It’s been a whirlwind.

All of the attention I am receiving has been a bit disruptive to my equilibrium.  It feels like one day I was ostracized from my lifelong religious communion, and the next I am speaking for TED.  It’s a little much.

Last week I had a wonderful time lecturing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a state university about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh.  IUP was the site of the event that got the attention of Fox News last spring.  The students, faculty and administration were warmly welcoming.  Though I spoke for a lot of hours over two days, I was energized by the refreshing questions and genuine appreciation expressed by so many.

Since I’ve written pretty openly about my pain of late, and the whirlwind being what it is, more than a few folks have asked if I am all right.  Yep.  I am.  My life is often difficult, but so is yours.  We are all just trying to get by.  A few have asked where I find my grounding.  The answer is that I do everything I can to make sure I am home every weekend. My grounding is with the people of Left Hand Church.

The folks at Left Hand don’t care whether or not I am speaking at TED, or getting a movie deal, or traveling the world.  We just do life together.  We meet on Saturday evenings in a borrowed sanctuary that has quickly become my sanctuary from the buzz and hum of a world addicted to speed.

I love the few minutes before services start, when I have time for a brief chat with the people who have come to worship.  Pretty much every week, as one of our members does the communion meditation, I lean over to Jen and say, “I love this church.”

Aaron and Jen, my co-pastors, are also a grounding force, as we learn to be pastors together, following our Trinitarian-inspired leadership model.  We laugh and cry and puzzle over things pastors puzzle over.  It is good work.

In his book, The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt says religion is here to stay.  It is how humans learned to cooperate beyond the level of kin.  Astrophysicist Owen Gingrich says this is a universe that was expecting us.  And I might add, expecting us to form spiritual communities.

When the co-pastors gather, Jen laughs a lot and says brilliant things I have to write down.  When I get an idea, I stare at the corners of the ceiling and Jen and Aaron wait patiently as I try to find words for my thoughts.  Aaron, with his reserves of kindness, rolls his eyes in a way that says, “You guys are crazy, but I can’t help but love you.”

Heatherlyn, our worship minister, brings her generous spirit to the conversation and Kimberly our children’s minister, brings her steady confidence.  Jason makes it so we never have to think about tech, and Vernon keeps the teens wanting more.  We are blessed, abundantly blessed.

Left Hand Church grounds me in the way Highlands Church grounded me before, and before that? Well, come to think of it, before that I never had the kind of spiritual grounding I have received at both Highlands and Left Hand.

How can a church barely nine months old be such a place of comfort, encouragement and joy?  It’s pretty simple.  Humans were made for spiritual community.  That is where we find our calm in the midst of the whirlwind.  It is where we catch those glimpses that confirm to us that the moral arc of the universe is long, and that is does bend toward justice.  Left Hand Church is home, and home is where I belong.

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