Rev. Jeanne’s Reflections

As we start the new school and church year, we welcome you back to SUUS, a wonderful congregation full of loving, kind, and gentle people. This coming Sunday, I will be celebrating with you, for our 5th time together, our annual Water Communion. How I wish it could be back in our beautiful building. I miss being together with all of you every Sunday. But, for now we have our on-line gatherings and that is good, too. I look forward to seeing all your faces again.

I am a big fan of the theologian, Paul Tillich. The following passage was written by Frederick Buechner. I share it with you in honor of our water communion and the Mystery of Life that cannot be named.

OCEAN

THEY SAY THAT whenever the great Protestant theologian Paul Tillich went to the beach, he would pile up a mound of sand and sit on it gazing out at the ocean with tears running down his cheeks. One wonders what there was about it that moved him so.

The beauty and power of it? The inexpressible mystery of it? The futility of all those waves endlessly flowing in and ebbing out again? The sense that it was out of the ocean that life originally came and that when life finally ends, it is the ocean that will still remain? Who knows?

In his theology, Tillich avoided using the word God because it seemed to him too small, denoting only another being among beings. He preferred to speak instead of the Ground of Being, of God as that which makes being itself possible, as that because of which existence itself exists. His critics complain that he is being too metaphysical. They say they can’t imagine praying to anything so abstract and remote.

Maybe Tillich himself shared their difficulty. Maybe it was when he looked at the ocean that he caught a glimpse of the One he was praying to. Maybe what made him weep was how vast and overwhelming it was and yet at the same time as near as the breath of it in his nostrils, as salty as his own tears.

-Originally published in Beyond Words

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