Changes of mind aren’t superficial or easy things. Mine have usually come as forced exits from the comfort of myself to somewhere more painful. I have had to learn to be beside myself.Looking back three decades, I see that the reception of the sacrament began gradually to set me aside, to place me beside myself, and, equally slowly, to make of my studies less an instrument for self-gratification and the domination of others and more an ecstasy of response to God.
"What causes you to become discouraged?” I asked a visitor from eastern Congo who started a university in that country a few years ago. He told me that the school had grown from 200 to 500 to 800 students, and that it was adding new areas of study. I was impressed as he described the intersections of pastoral training, agriculture and health.
One day in the early 1990s when the news was filled with the story of the Menendez brothers, my wife, Jane, was driving with our three-year-old daughter, Callie. A reporter said something about the Menendez brothers killing their parents and Callie asked, “Did they say ‘kill their parents’?” to which Jane quickly replied, “Yes, they were bad boys, weren’t they? We don’t kill our parents.”
It is autumn again, and life is speeding up. Students are back in school, classes are beginning and the fall programs of churches are in full swing. Wouldn’t it be good to find a spiritual discipline for these days that would remind us of the pace and the blessings of summer?
Brian Darweesh and Reem Younes had a simple, civil wedding as Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They had fled from their homes in Syria due to violence and a threat on Darweesh’s life. Two Mennonite congregations in Winnipeg, Manitoba, sponsored their immigration to Canada. A little over a year after the civil wedding, the two Canadian congregations threw the couple a wedding ceremony, complete with a wedding dress for Younes and a Syrian dessert. “She married the man of her dreams . . . but [until now] she didn’t get to have the wedding of her dreams,” a congregational representative said (Mennonite World Review, October 16).