Dear Stillpoint Friends,
Our calendar has turned a new year. Stillpoint is embarking upon a new decade of existence. We have also experienced some newness at Stillpoint as we have transitioned to a new Executive Director.
This idea of “newness” is one I spend a great deal of time thinking about. It is a key word in the writings of the New Testament. Both Jesus and St. Paul speak frequently of change and newness. In reality, life is a series of new events. Some we plan for and some happen to us. In this reality we find a central truth of spirituality.
One of my favorite ways to relax is by immersing myself in Russian history, culture and literature. Years ago I picked up my first Russian novel and since then I have been hooked. A common feature in the works of the Russian literary masters is to include characters who are struggling deeply with their spiritual journeys. One such character is Count Pierre Bezukhov from Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Late in the novel, after experiencing all sorts of difficulties and heartbreaks, Pierre lies down by a campfire and has a dream. In this dream he hears the following words:
“Life is everything. Life is God. Everything changes and moves and that movement is God. And while there is life there is joy in consciousness of the divine. To love life is to love God.”
This is a breakthrough moment for Pierre. These words, when considered deeply, can also be the source of a great breakthrough in our own spiritual lives. When we see change, when we see movement, and when we see life itself; it is there that we can encounter God.
A major change in my life happened when I accepted the invitation to be the new Executive Director of Stillpoint. This change has already brought great joy and peace to my life in ways that I never could have imagined. Change is a wonderful gift from the Divine and is at the heart of all the world’s major faiths. Change has also been at the heart of Stillpoint for ten years. As the Spirit has prompted, things have grown and developed in ways that were often surprising and unexpected.
As I enter this new year, I do so with a deep sense of gratitude. My gratitude begins with thankfulness for the vision and hard work of Dr. Róisín O’Loughlin, Delise Sartini, and Mary Alice Nielson in creating Stillpoint. It continues toward all those who serve (and have served) on our board, as well as our excellent staff. Finally, I am amazed at the people I have encountered thus far in the Stillpoint community. Your generosity in time, talent and treasure has kept our work flourishing. I have heard so many powerful stories of how individuals have embraced the change God has brought into their lives and allowed it to bring them into a deeper spiritual union with the Divine.
In this time of new beginnings, my hope and prayer is that we all find new ways to love life; for to love life is to love God.
Brian Neely, M.T.S.
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