Formation Resources: Who Do You Want To Become?

by: 
Bob Scott, Kathryn Carroll, Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Sometimes, a simple act of kindness can remind you who you are and, perhaps, even more so, who you want to become.

 


 


This Sunday
 

To prepare for Sunday, see this week’s readings.

 


Adult Learning and Discovery
 


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

God Delivers

Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

I awakened this morning recalling a sweet encounter from the night before. The memory stayed with me because it was poignant — but also because, in my mindfulness training, I have been practicing present-moment awareness and so, I am more able to remember how things went down and even, sometimes, how they fit together.

A series of simple choices last night began with a moment of irritation followed by a moment of self-indulgence, which turned into the unlikely (and holy) welcome of a holy stranger. Sometimes, a simple act of kindness can remind you who you are and, perhaps, even more so, who you want to become.

As I sat on the bed, annoyed that our son had missed dinner without a word of notice, I had the urge to boycott the family movie night he had proposed earlier. I noted my annoyance, then my urge to boycott, then my self-criticism for not being more forgiving, then my realization that I was simply stuck. Typically, these feelings would lump into one big uncomfortable feeling but, as I said, I’ve been practicing noticing the stream of movements and reactions within, so I can remember the details of what happened next.  

My story begins in the next moment. The first move — was it self-indulgence or was it loving care? I picked up the phone and ordered delivery of three over-priced pints of guilt-free ice cream, in our three favorite flavors. More typical of me, I would wait for it to go on sale and then wait three more days for it to be delivered. My father’s depression-era ethic, I guess. His immigrant father would wait for the sale, walk to the store, and then carry home enough to last for weeks, but that’s another story. I was hoping to lift my mood and surprise my family.

Not five minutes after I placed the order, my son entered with an apology that melted my cold heart (a bit). And five minutes after that, the phone rang and a man with a heavy accent offered another apology because they were out of one of the ice cream flavors. He went on to list all the alternatives, but I couldn’t quite make out any of the words but “strawberry,” so I ordered that one. Behind the accent was a conciliatory voice and I let it go. Then I calculated the 20 minutes it would take for the delivery to arrive and looked forward to our night together.

About 40 minutes later, in the middle of our movie, my phone rang again. The same voice said that he had gotten all the way to our apartment but had forgotten to put the delivery in his car, so had to turn back. Again, he seemed so gentle in his apology, I just asked him to calculate how long it would take to return. Thirty minutes, he said. Knowing how unlikely that prospect was, I thanked him, and he thanked me for my patience. 

About 45 minutes later, my phone rang again. I recognized the voice and made out that he was here. I thanked him and he asked me to come down to receive the delivery. This not being pandemic protocol and, having already tipped him for his service, I suggested he just leave the package in the lobby. But he persisted.

At this point, I got a funny feeling. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the tone of his voice had changed. So I asked my husband if he would go to greet the man downstairs.

A short time later, he returned with a single pint of ice cream! And it was shrunken inside, partly melted and with a coating of freezer burn! But my husband had a noticeably calm and gentle look on his face from the moment he lifted the foil-covered pint out of the bag. “I’m sorry,” he said. “This is what we have.” The world’s most expensive pint of ice cream, I thought. “Did you get a refund?” “Well, no.” He then went on to tell me about his encounter with the delivery man.

He was so sorry. He had forgotten the other two pints. He was so sorry; if we were to call his employer to complain, he said, he would certainly lose his job. I thought about all the people out of work since the pandemic. I thought about all the immigrants being targeted and humiliated in our country. Perhaps Mark thought about that, too. More likely, in that moment, he saw the desperation in the man’s eyes as he reached into his pocket for whatever he had and explained that he couldn’t come close to refunding the balance.

Normally, I’d be pretty annoyed — mostly with myself for overpaying in the first place. But I wasn’t annoyed at all. And I didn’t mind a bit forgoing dessert altogether. There was something about the man’s voice, my husband’s facial expression, and the mental image of this conversation happening before the lobby attendant. What are the chances that this man’s double slip-up would happen on an order from a priest and a minister? He would never know that we weren’t just randomly compassionate, but, rather, practicing (licensed even!) compassion-bearers. And the look of relief on his face, both witnessed and imagined, was its own reward.

An hour later, as I readied for bed, the phone beeped a text notification. It had a series of “thanks” and praying hands emojis in a repeating pattern. It made me smile. I showed my husband and asked whether he wanted me to comment. He said, “Yes, tell him I told you that he is a good man, a sign from God, and offer him our blessings.”

Just as I was drifting off to sleep came the reply: “Thanks. [Praying hands emoji.] Big hard [heart] you and [you’re] husband. Thanks thanks thanks. [Praying hands emoji.] I really happy. Thanks. Thanks.”

God is good. And there is hope, I thought, in the small encounters that humanize us and dignify one another. Hate and xenophobia, like death, will not have the last word. There was an empty carton of freezer-burned ice cream on the counter to remind me not to be afraid. And a holy stranger delivering good news to remind me of who I want to be.

 


Adult Practice
 

Listen to “Say Thank You Say I'm Sorry,” a poem about life during the pandemic by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown.

Read Mustard Seed Vision from Spirituality & Practice. “So we're back to the mustard seed. The details of our activities, the details of our relationships, are like them. They may seem small at the time, but they have the potential to grow into something much larger,” reflects Frederic Brussat.

Finally, while the online meditation group with spiritual directors John Deuel and Kathy Bozzuti-Jones will break for the month of August, all who would like to get a taste of this contemplative practice group are invited to join the last gathering of the summer on Wednesday, July 29, 6:30–7:30pm. To register, email ChristianFormation@trinitywallstreet.org.

 


Children and Families
 


Contemplative photo by Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Unnoticed Treasure

Kathryn Carroll

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” a mustard seed, yeast, treasure hidden in a field, a merchant in search of fine pearls, a fishing net. “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

That last one though — “treasure.” What is one’s treasure? I think that there might be some common clues among all of these beloved parables. But they aren’t always easy to detect because they’re small, or because they’ve gone unnoticed and unvalued for so long, that they’re nearly invisible.

Have you ever looked through a magnifying glass? Did you notice new things about something? What made you want to look more closely? What can you do with what you noticed?

Family Worship: Home Edition

See Family Worship: Home Edition to see this week’s activity for children and families.

Summer Sundays

This Sunday at 10am in our Very Best Day program, we’ll be talking about The Way of Love practice “Go.” How can we go and see, or be treasure in the smallest of things? RSVP to Kathryn Carroll at KCarroll@trinitywallstreet.org.

 


Song of the Week
 

Each week, we’re sharing a song of the week to help you go deeper with each Sunday’s theme. The playlist will be updated weekly, and the song of the week will sit on top.