The arrival of the New Year prompts resolutions for the future.
You know, the agreement to at least try to shape the days ahead by deciding upon actions and principles and values to pursue as the days come and go. Most of my resolutions turn out to be well-intentioned, but futile when compared to what actually happens!
Maybe this year will be different. Let me explain.
I spent the last week rummaging around in my past.
Almost 40 years ago (where did the time go?), I served as minister for a tiny little church out in the woods about 15 miles north of Searcy, Arkansas. The Spring Valley Church of Christ met in a small, white, concrete block building on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. On Sunday mornings folks literally emerged from the surrounding woods to attend church services.
There was no town or organized community as such--just people who lived up and down that single dirt road that wound its way through the hills and soybean fields.
At the time I was a 20-year-old kid pursuing a major in religion at Harding College, a small, liberal arts college rooted in the heritage of the Church of Christ. Of course, I was idealistic and excited about the opportunity presented by my "first church."
What I learned from the people at Spring Valley has stayed with me across all the years. We spent several days last week at Heber Springs, Arkansas on a short break. While in the area, we drove down to Searcy and out into the woods to the little church.
Coincidentally, while we were there, we also ran into Dean and Leona Poole at a grocery store in Searcy. The Pooles were mainstays in the congregation. Dean just retired from his "on the square barber shop" after 40 years of cutting hair!
I learned to fly fish for rainbow, brown and brook trout in the Little Red River while working with these folks. I learned how groups work or don't work together. I learned lessons regarding the power of simplicity and the basics of everyday life and contentment.
My experiences here provided me hours of laughter, and still do today as I recall so many hilarious situations and happenings. Next time you see me, remind me to tell you the story of Wilton Poole's water well and new house, Jim's possum hunting experience, and the burning of Wilton's barn.
The church is still there and active. The Pooles, the Pratts, the Featherstones (Barnetts) and others still form the heart of the little group.
I find my "resolutions" for 2007 right here where I found so much wisdom so long ago.
The good folks at Spring Valley taught me that the New Year will be productive if I simply abide by the following:
1. I will learn the benefits of not pushing to the front of the line. Taking the back seat intentionally can be a very good move.
2. I will spend at least as much energy attempting listen to others as I do in trying to let them know what I think.
3. I will care, genuinely care, about the concerns, hurts, needs and fears of others.
4. I will spend myself for the sake of my family, putting the needs of family ahead of my own.
5. I will do my best to be dependable as a friend and as a member of my community.
6. I will connect my faith to the practical realities of my day-to-day life--living by the "Golden Rule," reaching out to people in need, standing up for those who are treated unfairly, speaking the truth at all times.
7. I will learn to value simple things like honesty, hard work, commitment, compassion and the love I receive from those nearest me.
8. I will always welcome newcomers.
9. I will think for myself and not be swayed by a majority that is simply wrong or not in line with my mission or judgment.
10. I will celebrate the successes of others without reservation or petty jealousy or envy.
It is amazing to me how much I have carried into my life from the lives of the little group of folks out at Spring Valley.
Truth is validated by its application to multiple situations and circumstances.
What worked in the country, deep in rural Arkansas, works just as well in the heart of one of America's great cities. Building community turns out to be about the same wherever it is attempted.
Happy New Year!
Announcement from Duke Memorial UMC
1 week ago