Mission & Vision

Mission & Vision

Laura K. Secor, Touchstones Small Group Ministry Coordinator

Good morning my friends,

This month we are going to try an experiment.  For our inspiration we are going to draw from the Touchstones ministry materials on Mission and Vision, the November theme.  We will open with a prayer, one which immediately drew my eye.  See, I went through my kindle to make a list of all the books I’d started this year, this 2019, and put aside.  Some I had picked up and read only a little.  Others I am about halfway through, picking up and putting down over and over again.  This has been the year of unfinished projects.  I thought to myself, I guess it’s about 20 books I’m in the middle of.  So I made the list, and when I was done I counted.  Fifty nine books!!  This is crazy!  How can I be so scattered?  I was berating myself, until I found this prayer.  And now I give it to you.

A Prayer for Unfinished Business

– by Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

Dear great lathe of heaven,

O foundry of souls,

You churning, burning cosmos which has wrought me on the infinite loom of your celestial body.

Spinning stars and indifferent stones: hear my prayer.

Do not curse me to perish with all my dreams fulfilled.

Do not afflict me with a vision so narrow and a heart so small,

That all my greatest hopes ­could be accomplished within a single lifetime.

Rather, bless me with an unquiet spirit.

Anoint me with impertinent oils.

Grant me dreams so great and numerous,

That I might spend the fullness of my days to realize them,

And have ample remaining to leave to my inheritors.

Holy gyre that bore me and must one day take me home,

Allow me the mercy to depart this life with unfinished business.

Doesn’t that just cheer you up enormously!?

So as I mentioned, this month’s theme is Vision and Mission.  Unless you are living someone else’s dream, you need a vision of your own to start you on your mission.  Here is a vision experienced by one of nature’s seers, Annie Dillard.

My Whole Life a Bell

When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw “the tree with the lights in it.” It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

I am not as poetic as Annie, but I think sometimes I see trees with the same sense of wonder she describes.  November is a hard month for me, seeing the trees lose their leaves and become echoes of their former glory.  But we hold on to the vision through the winter months, don’t we?

Once you trust in your personal sense of vision, that leads someone inevitably to your sense of mission.  Here Rev. Anthony David puts it so well:

Lessons in Leadership

We’ve got to be there when the moment comes. So much is at stake in how we use our influence. And it’s not always a matter of responding to crisis. Parker Palmer puts it this way: “I lead by word and deed simply because I am here doing what I do. If you are here, doing what you do, then you also exercise leadership of some sort.” Even just to smile across the room at someone you know-just to acknowledge their existence-can be a kind of leadership, an exercise of influence that is truly important. Just by smiling across the room, you are living into a larger vision of a community that strengthens and encourages. Someone was talking about this just the other day-how horrible and withering it feels to notice someone looking at you but they don’t smile, they don’t acknowledge your existence…. Leadership is about making the vision real, in acts both big and small. You see a piece of trash on the floor, and you pick it up even if you aren’t the sexton, even if you aren’t part of the paid staff, even if you hear a voice in your head that says, “Ahh, …surely someone else will do it.” No. YOU do it, and as you do it, your simple act of leadership is helping to create the Beloved Community vision that says, “We are all in this together. It’s up to all of us. Pull together and not apart. Everyone chip in. The ministry here involves every friend, every member, because that’s what it takes to live out our mission of changing lives. That’s what it takes.”

Leadership is everyone’s vocation, expressed through acts both big and small. It’s about how we use our influence, towards the direction of some larger vision. It’s about how we respond to the call, when it comes.

I wish you success in noticing your own vision, and finding your own mission.  See you next month!