- Published Date
- Written by Rev. Tim Kutzmark
A Sermon Offered by Rev. Tim Kutzmark
Sunday, January 3 , 2010 • Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading
Two days into the New Year, and Tucker is already quite confused. We are in the Reading Town Forest, at his favorite place, where, in the heat of a humid summer, the river flows slowly, allowing Tucker’s doggy paws to wade into the water, chasing reflections of light that dance across the surface.
But that was summer, and this is the first week of January 2010. That favorite river spot is frozen and covered several inches deep by a snow bank. Tucker uses his snout and paws to excitedly scrape away the snow from the surface. Now, there is clear, open access to the ice.
And that’s when the confusion begins. Tucker knows the water is there, waiting to be splashed in, hunted through, sniffed and swallowed. But something blocks his way: ice, a covering, an impenetrable coating brought by a season of life. Frantically, Tucker scratches and scrapes and claws and claws, but he can’t touch what lies underneath. He can’t reach it. He can’t access that river, that flowing force. He finally stops and plops down to stare, just stare, at that scratched cold place that should have been filled with life.
Tucker and his frustration at the frozen river recall these words by poet William Stafford:
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life….
You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden . . .
I know there are times in my own life, far more frequently than I wish I had to admit, when I feel the ice of unrealized life covering my spirit. There are times when that flow of life—that force of energy and strength and consciousness, that connection to awareness and hope and purpose and passion and insight—there are times when that vital river of life seems so very far from my reach. There are times when my sense of self seems hopelessly buried. Like Tucker, I scratch for it and I dig for it. Like Tucker, I know it is there, I can sense it, my memory remembers what it feels like, but the weather of my life has frozen my ability to touch it. A barrier, cold and unyielding, separates me from my soul. The questions and the confusions converge and overwhelm.
In those times, when the river is ice, I ask
whether what I have done is my life.
In those times, when the river is ice, we ask
whether what we have done is our life.
We turn to the silent river and wait…
I wish I could stand here and tell you that life isn’t hard or complex or that it is ultimately decipherable. I wish there were a simple solution to cracking through the ice that has formed and frozen within us and around us. I wish there were a direct and guaranteed technique of touching again that deep current of purpose, identity, and hope. I wish I could tell you that a certain prayer, a certain pill, or that one God or one form of therapy, or one kind of meditation, or one attitude or frame of mind will carry us though. I wish I could tell you that clear direction can always be touched. But I can’t. Life is more complicated than that. Sometimes, the more we live, the more confusing, the more out of reach the river becomes.
But in those times when the river is ice, in those times when we’re only asked about mistakes we’ve made, in those times when the loudest voice of all questions whether what we have done is our life….
I do know that if I can stop, even for a few moments . . .
I do know that if we can stop and listen . . .
I do know that if I can stop and see . . .
Someone or something—somehow—will remind us that underneath the ice the silent river is there, that the current is there, hidden and flowing and free and waiting—waiting for another season—waiting for me, waiting for you, waiting for us. Someone or something—somehow—will remind us that we do not wait alone.
Poet Denise Levertov writes:
We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life . . .
Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet . . .
We have only begun to know
the power that is in us . . .
So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture.
The river has been unfolding, flowing, far longer than Tucker’s paws and confusion. The river has been unfolding, flowing through seasons more ancient than our heartbreak and tears.
And that’s what faith is really about. Remembering that there is something beyond this present moment. That’s what faith is really about. Remembering that there is a power in us and among us that we have only begun to know and experience. That’s what faith is really about: remembering that there is something unfolding in us that must complete its gesture.
This afternoon, on our walk in the forest, Tucker will run back to his spot on the river. He will scratch and sniff and dig and wait. And in time, with the season’s blessing, with the season’s turning, he will play again in the warm, running waters.
So, too, will we, if we return again and again to this gift called life. We will scratch and sniff and weep and wail and laugh and learn and love and lose and love again and love even more and hope and dream and be and become. Oh, we shall be and we shall become. And in time, that which is beyond this present moment will embrace us. In time, we will know the power within and beyond. In time, something unfolding through us will complete its gesture.
We will play again in the warm, running waters.
And that is why, today, I can say,
That is why, today, we can say,
Happy New Year!
©Copyright 2010 Rev. Tim Kutzmark
All rights reserved.