I’ve learned that I’m an experiential learner. In other words, unless I do it, I don’t quite get it.  I wish it were otherwise but honestly if you explain to me what to do or give me a set of directions to follow I won’t really “get it” until I’m actually doing it.

Before my 100 mile wilderness trek, many people told me about the importance of eating during the day on the trail. I went with my Dad to the grocery store and we picked out Cliff Bars and Protein Bars, sausage sticks and beef jerky, cheese, bags of nuts and two emergency Snickers bars for whenever I’d come to the end of my rope and needed to keep going!  It all seemed like a lot of snacks to munch on and more than I’d ever taken on a day hike. Besides, I was trying to keep my pack as light as possible. So I didn’t pack the other things we’d talked about taking like tortillas, peanut butter, raisins, chocolate and yet more nuts.  

Out on the trail I soon learned that I didn’t quite have enough snacking energy to sustain me or perhaps I wasn’t consuming what I had in the right way. Our group leader, Jen, asked me several times the first few days, “Are you doing okay?” I nodded.  I was feeling good, felt I could physically do the hike, but my energy slid off the chart by later in the afternoon when we finished up our hikes.  “Where’s Peter?” was the question my hiking buddies asked each afternoon as they looked around for me.  

This summer we’re all figuring out what we need to sustain us in yet another season of change. We’ll all need different things and perhaps more gifts of sustenance and grace than we imagine we do, as we navigate our way through.

We’ll be figuring out how comfortable we are gathering in-person with others.  We’ll be figuring out how to handle our anxiety and protect ourselves and family members and friends who are not vaccinated.  At in-person worship we’ll be continuing to learn about moving through this season and yes, learning in real time about what works best for the safety and care of the whole community of our visitors, friends and members.  It will take extra patience, kindness and understanding with ourselves and one another, yes. What’s the “food” and “sustenance” you need to help you trek with care through this coming season?  

This week of July 4th is sometimes an important gathering time for family and friends.  I am here with some of my family on Lake Winnisquam in New Hampshire near where my parents live. I am so grateful for this time we have together and I’m also holding in my heart all who aren’t able to gather with family and friends this year. Some of us are grieving the loss of loved ones.  For some of us other’s family gatherings just emphasize the ache of our own isolation. Others of us are unable to travel or have loved ones that cannot travel to see us.  

What it all adds up to is feeding one another with our care, checking-in and presence in a season that is full of joy, anticipation and thanksgiving for some and for others of us grief, loneliness and loss.  We need each other – that’s one of the central gifts and messages of church.  And we do.  

May your loved ones walk and be with care these days.  

May we all find food along the way of sustenance and strength.  

And when your supplies run low may we reach out and check in with others because truly when we are together there is always abundance and more than enough.

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