From "SHARING" #004, July 1996
"In my early life, I made two very important discoveries. In the first place, I discovered that making money was easy. And in the second place, I discovered that making money and spending it foolishly was completely meaningless. I knew that this was not what I was here for, but at that time (this was many years ago), I didn't know exactly what I was here for. It was out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, and after having walked all one night through the woods, that I came to what I now know to be a very important psychological hump. I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life, to dedicate my life to service. I tell you, it's a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living."
Peace Pilgrim walked over 25,000 miles across this country spreading her message from 1953 to 1981. She believed that spiritual truth should not be sold, and The Friends Of Peace Pilgrim, who put together the materials about her, which are now distributed as booklets, books, videos, and audio tapes, do so without charge, as contributions permit. I have obtained a number of these booklets, and some of the books, which are now available at the Center for free. I also have a video about Peace Pilgrim, which is in the Lending Library, and available for check out. I recommend that each of you stop by for a copy of the booklet. If you live outside of the tri-county area and would like a copy, drop me a note, and I will mail one to you. The inspirational impact of her life is awesome.
Another interesting excerpt I have recently run across comes from the book True Colors, written by Jim Talley and Terry Benner (it, too, is in the Lending Library). It reads:
"Many people approach Scripture in the same way they approach a tax form: constantly in search of the elusive loophole. Where's the boundary line and how close can I get before someone calls foul? I think one of the most tedious and nonproductive counseling sessions for a pastor is time spent with someone who insists on searching through Scripture to find verses that justify either what they have done or what they want to do. I don't believe the writers of Scripture ever intended, or even imagined, that people who claimed the blood of the Lamb would attempt to manipulate God's word in this way. They wrote with the consuming purpose of showing the adopted children ways to move closer to their heavenly Father. They assumed that this would be the force that drove us to the word of God. It has become, for many, an insurance policy where they are constantly trying to get the best coverage for the lowest premium. How little can I do, how far can I go and still be covered by the cross?"
(My poem "Conversation" was included as a part of this newsletter)
"It seems to be a good book;
- (Cherokee) Chief Yonaguska
All year I have been struggling with the various viewpoints and ideas concerning contributions and finances. I know I do not personally like constantly receiving solicitations for contributions monthly, or sometimes it feels like more often, so that was an easy route to eliminate. On the other extreme, I read about some missionaries who ran a hospital which was almost out of money. When a visitor suggested the reason they didn't get more help was because nobody knows (about their need), they replied "God knows."
I had to wrestle with the question, of whether it was an ego (lack of humility) thing to not ask for contributions, or was it truly an important philosophical belief on my part. The truth is, having left State Farm, my personal resources are now minimal. Another truth I believe, however, is that I made that choice, as a faith response to what I felt God was asking me to do, and the consequences of that choice are mine, and obligates nobody else. I have tested a few doors, and found no clear answers, but some rather clear feelings have developed.
While it is true that God has given me substantial sales training and abilities, as a result of my 20 years with State Farm, I do not believe it correct to use those skills simply for the objective of fundraising. So I won't.
I did learn in business though, that the easier you make it for people, the more likely they'll want to be involved (do business) with what you do. So I will. That is the reason you receive a return envelope, and a reminder card of what, and when, you've contributed (even though it is not tax deductible).
I have considered if I should get an outside job to support what I do here, rather than acknowledging a need for contributions. I don't think so. There is more than enough work demanding my time here as it is. Most people have no concept what it takes to keep it developing and organized. If here is where, and what, I am supposed to be doing, God will make the provision. If not, the sooner I find out, the better. The jury's out.
I have decided I will not ask for contributions, but simply make the need known. I hope nobody feels put upon, or pressured to contribute as a result of receiving the card and envelope. The other things which have come from my thoughts and deliberations about this, can be read on the Contribution Card as my Financial Integrity Statement. The direction feels right. I hope so.
Now a few notes:
I have changed the Keyholder program. Those who might be affected will be notified.
As a result of some past experiences, I have set a one-time fee of $13 for the poet's circle to cover the costs of the paperwork and time of adding a new member. This applies only to new members coming in, not to you. However, I would remind anyone who is not truly interested in what is going on here, or in receiving these mailings, it only takes a note to me to have your name removed from the mailing list. I am not offended by such a request. Truth is truth.
This summer the Center will be staffed on
Wednesdays, from 2 to 6 pm.