Monthly Theme: Wisdom The Wisdom of Presence in the Face of a Big Wave June 2018 Rev. Patty Willis

Almost six years ago, when we were beginning our shared ministry, I heard the stories of the difficult farewells with previous ministers. So, even as I was starting, I thought, “I’d like to be the kind of community that can do a ‘good’ goodbye.” Now as we are trying to do that, I realize how hard that is and yet how simple. This saying goodbye well calls us to the Buddhist practice of being awake to the possibilities of each moment that we have. During these last weeks together, let us be present to all that this time holds: the sadness, laughter and anger. Let us listen to one another, let us talk and talk and let us sit in silence. Perhaps that is my wisdom for the road ahead: Be present to this time of parting and through the changes ahead. Our lives are never lived in the future. They are enacted right now.

A few months ago, I wrote a poem that seemed to emerge from my inner knowing that change was coming. At the center of this poem are the fishermen who, seeing the tsunami, saw the wisdom and safety in riding the wave. What an adventure it has been to ride waves together and arrive here at this place. I am hoping that many of you will make appointments to visit with me or help me fill boxes. Let us be present. Let us face the sea full throttle!

In love and community,


Only they survived
How do you find your way in?
My barricades are high and thick
like the sea walls of Japanese villages
meant to keep out the sea

but when plates shift
the waves cannot be stopped
by walls, raised hands, prayers
for the safety of loved ones.
Those are for us when the Earth
is at rest—to lull us into quiet,
help us go about our days as if You
were a calm landscape, a cherry tree
in full bloom—blossoms scattering
on our hands—billowing in clouds
to land on the unexpecting farmers
as a sign of the abundance of the coming season
spreading joy.

Rivers become thoroughfares of debris
and bodies, stuck in time like Pompeii,
arms raised against the wall of water
hoping, hoping, then pulled along
with roofs of temples, trucks and moored boats.
Only the ones who dared to turn around
and face the sea full throttle were saved,
bucking the waves as their grandfathers
had taught them. Remembering then–
a story they thought was exaggerated
boasting over whiskey–an old man
holding up the family name.
Only they survived, returning to an emptied port—
no moorings for fastening
but the boat knew home and stayed.