I heard one of the best sermons in my life.
The problem is that I didn’t. I was dreaming.
The time change and my recent life have aligned to place me in the gauzy betweenworld of sleep and reality.
Yesterday, I watched the last episode of Bill Maher. One of the guests was Michael Eric Dyson, a preacher, professor, and activist. Another was Jon Meacham, a historian, and writer. Both were exceptional. Jon’s intelligence and ability to explain his ideas impressed me. Michael had the same gift, amplified with a poignant and natural turn of phrase. If I’ve learned nothing else about myself, I treasure these gifts.
Though I didn’t know I was dreaming, a writer invited me to attend an unfamiliar church on a Friday evening. As happens in dreams, I entered the church without any connecting events.
After a round of introduction and applause, a man approached the podium placed in front of the altar at the front of the church. He cleared his throat and began to speak:
“If you want to be a good person in life, the most important thing you own might be your ears. Your eyes are forever full of appetite and illusion. If you’re receptive to what you hear, you learn a lot of knowledge. But you also learn a lot of subtext and context that your eyes convert to confusion. If you educate yourself, your mouth allows you to share what you learn with others who hopefully have their ears open to different voices. But no matter how much you learn in life or what you achieve, if your heart isn’t open, you’ve wasted your life. Your heart shouldn’t be open only for what you see as God in your life. It should be open to people as they struggle. Because you have a lot of life experience, it would be easy to use the conduit between your ears and mouth to forget that whatever someone else is going through, they need your ears and heart to open long before they need your mouth. A welcome ear and a warm hand on one’s shoulder can cure more disorders than any amount of preaching. Present company excluded. If you have God in your heart, I believe you’re ahead of the game. But more importantly, just open your heart at every opportunity and figure out what’s keeping you from doing it all the time. Wide open. My message today is this: Ears. Heart. Mouth. Your achievements are meaningless otherwise. And all the knowledge? Dusty information doesn’t help anyone. Flex your fingers and arms for an embrace.”
The preacher took the papers from the podium and threw them into the air, and laughed.
“See? You weren’t expecting that! Sermons and life must contain unexpected moves – and laughter. Love one another as much as you can and listen. Amen.”
I’ll see you in the betweenworld sometime.