…and Ripening Fruit
by Heather Diddel
About five years ago, I said to Rev. Jim, “Don’t ever leave.”
I may have said it in a joking manner, but I was dead serious. Even as I knew it was wishful thinking. In getting to know Jim and Kay as I discovered Unity truth teachings, I found something I had never even thought to dream of—spiritual principles that resonated deeply, a minister who walked his talk and showed us how to walk an ever- evolving spiritual path of truth and discovery, and a married couple who walk a path of sincere, ever-deepening spiritual consciousness, joy, humor and friendship. Like a little child finding a lady bug, four leaf clover or other special treasure, I wanted to carefully preserve what I had discovered, put it in my pocket and never let it go.
Annoyingly enough, Jim chucked and said, “I will leave. I have other things to do. And so do you. And when that time comes, this church will have grown its spiritual consciousness and will call in a minister of very high consciousness who will take you even farther.”
Now, here we are, five years down the road.
It’s happening, just as Jim said it would. He and Kay are once again showing us what it means to walk their talk and to follow spiritual guidance, this time in the form of an inner nudge. A nudge to open up to what wants to be expressed through them, to them and all of us. Even when it is not easy, even when it means leaving friends you love, as well as fellow travelers, kindred spirits, and a life that works well. A life with glorious snowy days and cold dark winter nights. (There is still time to shed your preference for southern weather, Jim and Kay….)
Even as I hear that little child voice in my head urging “Please don’t go!”, I am grateful. Grateful for the gift of walking this path with Jim and Kay for much of the last 12 years. Grateful for all the learning – -whether it was (1) learning about Jim’s irrepressible pun-loving nature, (2) Kay’s remarkable sense of adventure ( did you know she used to pilot a little plane all over tarnation?) and spiritual ministry, (3) the gift of Wednesday classes that brought life-changing truth teachings and new friends, (4) Sunday messages that evolved over time to reveal quietly-stated, stunning new spiritual epiphanies in Jim’s spiritual growth and gave us permission to move in new directions on our own spiritual paths, and more.
One of the deepest learnings for me is about community. I remember Jim saying one Sunday, “Look around. Everyone here is your people. No exceptions.” Through Jim and Kay’s heart-centered ministry, I have experienced Unity as home, a place where we are all welcome. Exactly as we are. Truly. None of us is “alone,” no matter who or what we may think we are on any given day. We are always connected, we always “belong,” we are always held by the same invisible hand. To quote Jim, it is a friendly universe; that truth permeates this community. We can “lean in” when we are tired, broken-hearted or deeply troubled. We can raise our hands and dance together in celebration and joy. And most remarkably, we can be one another’s best teachers, friends, and family.
I heard a biologist once say that fruit ripens most quickly when it is placed with other fruit. I have learned that we, too, ripen and grow best when we are in community with other spiritual seekers. At our last board meeting, Dottie Frament shared her realization that community is where spiritual growth happens. Rev. Jim mentioned that A Course in Miracles basically says the same thing. And I was reminded of ripening fruit.
In the twelve years that Jim and Kay have been here, we have all grown and ripened together. We are a different community now. I believe that we are the community Jim descrived five years ago – -a community that has grown its spiritual consciousness and is committed to walking a path of truth and growth.
I sense the depth and strength of this community’s connection as we walk through this time of transition together, as we gather to celebrate the end of one phase and the beginning of another. Together, we continue to grow and ripen into a richly diverse community of sincere spiritual seekers. Together, we support Jim and Kay as they take the next steps on their path, and we know in every cell of our being that they are forever part of us and our community. Together, we will call in the next, wonderful minister and keep moving ahead on our path. Together, we will navigate new waters and thrive. Together, we will embrace the great mystery called life and discover our strength in our vulnerability. Together, we will savor the beauty of ripening with one another as we move forward and discover what this friendly universe has to offer… And so it is.