DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

 

September 29, 2006

 

 

 

From our Minister...  

“I Do Nothing…”

 

Some years ago I served a UCC church in the extreme NE corner of Washington State and would often go east into Northern Idaho. As the crow flies, the Idaho border was about 20 miles away, but you had to go over the mountains and in the Fall, Winter and Spring the road was closed because of snow. I remember a vacationer from Pennsylvania coming to our town and wanting to go east over the mountains into Idaho. It was June, but I had to tell him that the snow still had the road closed. He was baffled.

 

But there near the town of Coer d’ alene, Idaho was Lake Coer d’lene. It’s a fine, scenic lake.

 

Many years ago the Washington – North Idaho Conference of the UCC established a church camp on the shores of the lake. The camp is N-Sid-Sen which had some Native American meaning which I have now forgotten.

 

The Church Conference tabbed me to direct a week-long church camp for 5th and 6th graders. In the midst of my recent packing and moving, I came across photos from those three summers worth of week-long camps. And while I loved planning and directing those camps I have to admit they were exhausting. We leaders had to pace ourselves.

 

Each day after lunch the campers had to have one hour of “bunk-time.” It was a camp requirement and whether they slept or just read; they still had to be on their bunks. It was then that I got my time off before the onslaught of the afternoon activities. It was then that I would turn to one book in particular. I still have it on my bookshelf and it occurs to me that if it was worth my time years ago in Idaho, it is certainly worth your time here in the regions of Dublin.

 

Each afternoon I sat and read from The Hermitage Journals. This book is actually a diary kept by John Howard Griffin as he was working on a biography of Thomas Merton. Permit me to explain…now stay with me here…

 

Thomas Merton was an American Trappist Monk priest/writer who wrote more than 50 books and 2000 poems. Merton's letters and diaries (and, to a lesser extent, the books published during his lifetime) reveal the intensity with which Merton focused on social justice issues, including the civil rights movement and proliferation of nuclear arms.

 

Merton died an untimely death in Bangkok in 1968 and John Howard Griffin, a friend, writer and fellow Roman Catholic was appointed “official biographer.” So, Griffin (who wrote Black Like Me) went to Trappist, Kentucky where Merton lived, and was buried and he lived the Trappist life in order to explore the monk’s daily routine of prayer and study. Griffin kept a careful daily journal of his visits there. So, this book is not so much a biography of Merton but a reflection on Merton, on solitude and those things that should really matter in our lives in the midst of the hectic modern world.





 

 

 

Every afternoon, there at the church camp in Northern Idaho, I would sit by the windows of the dining hall and gaze out on the pines and the hills and try to find a quiet part inside myself. Here is Griffin writing…

 

“I do nothing. I take Merton’s advice and do nothing, just let all this saturate me; wait for it to tell me what to do. I watch, experience, and listen to the things about me. I empty myself of everything, knowing that when the time comes, the energies will rise up out of this quiet.”

 

You folks live a hectic lifestyle here in the Dublin area. It’s a good life and I am learning its joys but no matter where I have ministered…be it a big city or quiet country church, I have found no better than the words of Griffin and Merton to remind me that God calls us to step back and contemplate the eternal and gear up for assisting those who cross our paths daily. The Hermitage Journals have been my quiet and consistent companion for 25 years.

 

Next time you are rounding the curve on 270 and you wonder if there is a quiet place somewhere for you; I’m telling you that there is…I’ve found it if only for a few moments a day. God calls to us and I let Griffin and Merton direct me when I am ready to listen. You can too.

 

Peace,   Bob Tussing