“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius
Whenever I finally step off the merry-go-round of my ongoing distractions that keep me off course from carving out time to write, whichever research reference or prepared resource I feel I must have to aid me and give guidance in the process, is always someplace else in the house. Really?! I can have ten reference books and Bibles within arms reach, except the one I think I need. Today, I’m placing this interruption in the category of another way that my attacks and distractions frame themselves to keep me running in the same circle. You know, that circle where perfectionism is your sinful barrier and it has learned to successfully stand between you and what you’ve been called and directed to do. It’s important that we take time to settle our inner self and allow the grace of God, to realign our core on a daily basis. It is clearly difficult for a tree to hear and bring forth fruit in its season when its leaves keep rustling and drowning out the fruitful sounds (Psalm 1).
Through it all, Enhancement Ministries, Inc (EMI) remains an active 501 c3 organized in 2007 to manage outreach activities to provide supportive faith-based connections to school-aged youth, teens and their families when Broadway UMC was an active congregation in the North Broadway/Slavic Village neighborhood. By fall of 2012, EMI’s support sites included Garfield Hts. UMC, Boys & Girls Club, Cory UMC and the Downtown YMCA. Activities slated for Windermere-Living Hope never quite materialized and were abandoned winter 2013.
With encouragement from the EMI Board, I requested that my 2013-2014 clergy appointment was to Enhancement Ministries, Inc. as its Executive Director (2008 BOD ¶344.1d) in response to my call to inner-city ministry. We worked to reframe the ministry and our inner-city presence but after more than ten (10) years of poking around in Cleveland’s marginalized neighborhood and fully embracing my faith tradition, I remain under siege and intrigued by the unspoken rules of engagement in these neighborhoods. Unwritten! Publicly Unspoken! Yet, the impact of the unspoken and unwritten is wildly observed at all strata of community. Or, am I observing an attitude of complacency? Or am I observing an outcry resulting from the impact on some persons after being ignored for years upon years when trying to make a difference? How does one from the outside distinguish the difference between wounded warriors and complacent neighborhood dwellers? I need to find space to unpack my own story first and then make good on sticking and staying when it would be so easy to flee … out of sight, out of mind. Many come into neighborhoods with needs and think they have the quick fix, especially when it means grant dollars flowing their way. Yes, that’s been the methodology for more than ten (10) years. Crime is still high, racism still has a stronghold on resources, schools are still failing and families remain in the cycle of poverty. I believe the Phoenix that we seek (Superman) must rise from the ashes (so to speak) already within these spaces. But society finds it tough to respect their own already vested community members! Neighborhoods are like that too! There must be something better in the bag of goods from the outside (Superman) rather than the bags carried by those vested in the spaces needing attention.
My 2013-2014 clergy appointment, before retirement, to this community-based ecumenical ministry supporting marginalized students and their parents remains active. The goals remain but the obstacles remain larger than a life undertaking for anyone. Like anything meaningful in God’s sight, no one is called to do ministry or work alone. The meditation needed to maintain ministry goals while adjusting ministry steps does require a time of tarry with silence. A time without the rustling of leaves.
“Some people may have the gift of meditation, but this is difficult for most of us” (Christian Meditation, Thomas Merton). Difficult because some of us pile-up wasted minutes trying to find the correct thoughts to reflect on or the best corner of the prayer closet to settle in … we need routine! Perhaps the natural evolution of place, space and posture are what comes when we finally start recognizing and remembering we are all unique and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Who told us that it wasn’t okay to seek God’s voice in spaces embedded in our own repertoire of proven resources (Sacred Wounds, Teresa B. Pasquale)? I certainly will continue returning to these places with new eyes and an expectation that God will keep his promise to prosperous us and not harm us.
 Outler, Albert C. “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral.” In John Wesley and the Wholeness of Scripture, by Jason Gingerich. 2000.