Today’s Word from Rev. David Bieniek…  

A while back I read “The Art of Power” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a book that a chaplain friend had given to me many years ago, encouraging me to find my own inner strength and allowing it to inform my ministry.

The power Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of is not the power we think of in the West. It is the internal power that gives us strength – the power that connects us to the eternal strength of the universe, however we define that.

His discussion of mindfulness as part of claiming your power challenged me. Mindfulness – when we notice things. Instead of slugging down that cup of coffee in the morning, we take time to enjoy it and truly taste it. As we walk across the room, we pay attention to our steps. We notice our breathing and become mindful of it. Every aspect of our life noticed and appreciated, we breathe and release, “paying attention” to every little aspect.

With this in mind, we took a trip to the beach. As we walked through the woods toward the beach, what I noticed at first was a far-off distant gong. I wondered at first if it was part of a Buddhist chant. I realized, though, that it was the bell on the buoy not too far from the edge of the water. I had been to this beach several times but had never heard this “call to prayer” before. I loved it. It set the mood for the entire visit.

The beaches here are very different than the beaches I grew up with. The dark, volcanic sand seems to invite me to take off my sandals and walk. The sand is warm on the top but as my foot sinks in, the coolness of the sand encompasses my foot. Wonderful.

At the edge of the water, the sand gives way to small, shiny rocks, worn smooth by the constant action of the ocean. They are not comfortable to stand on, but I do. I listen. The cold water laps against my bare ankles, and there is a momentary dread of the biting cold. I continue listening and watching. I am amazed at the noise that happens as the water laps against the rocks and then recedes. It is almost as if I can hear each pebble as it strikes another and rolls into its new temporary resting place. I am in awe of the colors, sizes, and shapes that I see.

Farther down the beach, an outcropping of rocks extends into the water. These are bigger rocks, also worn smooth by the action of the waves. Some day they, too, will be worn down into pebbles. But for now, they stand as sentries guarding the small cove behind them. As I walk over, I disturb a flock of birds just beyond the rocks. Is this what these rocks were guarding? The birds fly up as one, chiding me for disturbing their rest. Realizing I am not a threat, they settle back down into their nests.

The diversity on this rocky shoreline is so unlike the diversity on a sandy beach. I realize that from the bluff above this beach, the diversity disappears. We are like that, too. Taken as a crowd, our diversity sometimes disappears, even though we know that we are all unique.

I listen for the buoy and realize that its gong has been muted by the noise of the waves. I attune to its sound and realize if I listen, I can once again hear that call to prayer. I decide it is time to return. Walking up the bluff, I hear the gong again – brought back to the call of mindfulness. May I walk and always hear the gongs, see the diversity, and remember that I am loved. And I wish the same goodness for you.

Rev. Dave Bieniek

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