From: William Gibbons Jr
Greetings to each of you,
This year ends on my Sabbath (the original sundown Friday to sundown Saturday of Jesus’ day), the last day of the week. The new year begins on the more common Sunday Sabbath (often referred to as the Lord's day), the first day (look at any calendar) of the week. It all seems very appropriate for this moment. But, it also means I am preparing and sending this last originating email a day early.
The new year is traditionally a time when people set goals, resolutions, try to incorporate change, or find new directions for their lives. For over two decades whenever someone has asked, “what is it that you want,” I typically responded that I want whatever it is that God wants for my life. That is still the case. However, I am having some difficulty discerning just how “retired” God wishes me to be. When circumstances pushed me out of my role as owner in 2015, into a role as a full-time volunteer for the T&SC nonprofit, my workload did not change all that much. In my prior twenty years, as I added aspects and details to my endeavors, each one seemed a good idea at the time. So, it has been unusually difficult trying to figure out what to step back from, and to let go of. One of the realities of my personality is, while I am immensely organized, I am not an organizational person. Plus, I do not possess the leadership skills to build an organization. If God wishes to keep the Teaching & Sharing Centers organization going beyond me, and every indication seems to point that He does, He will need to inspire new people with the appropriate skills to make that happen. I have not had a lot of success in that area.
Those familiar with Scripture, should understand the expression “desert experience.” 2016 has been much like that for me. Wandering around, not totally lost, but without a clear direction to create much motivation. Everywhere I turn there are piles of rocks (work) I started, but never could find the time to complete. What do you want Lord? While I am waiting for an answer, I have been spending a lot of time simply trying to clean up some of the clutter (electronically or otherwise, but mostly physical), of the unfinished projects, or backlog of work. It feels a lot like picking up rocks in the desert. When I look around, I wonder what progress have I truly made? Rather than banging my head against the same wall, I decided to experiment with some changes in 2017. I considered trying to step back from the electronic communications world entirely, but that seemed pretty unrealistic, and far beyond both my courage and functional levels. As a starter, however, I have indeed decided to take a one-year sabbatical from sending “originating” emails. This would include things like birthday e-cards, holiday greetings, philosophical works of my own or forwards, and all basic informational emails.
I am just shooting in the dark here, and this seems as good a place to start as any. Over the past two decades I have had constant doubts if I was getting it right. I just keep taking another step in faith. I once heard following God described as being like finding your way through a dense fog. I actually have preferred the times when God has pushed me in a certain direction using measures or events beyond my control. I marvel at people like Peace Pilgrim, who indicated that at some stage, things of God become as clear as a bell. Easily discernible, amply supplied, and filled with peace. I can only hope that day would come in my life. Mine is a constant pendulum struggle between the advice of let go and let God, and the philosophy that God gave us gifts because he expects us to utilize them, and get the stuff done ourselves.
Therefore, this is not carved in stone. I allow for the possibility of exceptions, such as if another member of my immediate family were to transition in 2017. And you have a part to play as well. Your feedback throughout the year will help determine whether I just continue on, or return to some sort of modified originating emails. As a for instance, if you notice, and miss receiving an email from me on your birthday, do not be bashful, drop me a note and let me know. The same applies for any other emails I might have normally sent, if they come to mind at any time over the course of the year. Currently my thoughts are, if I do not make eliminating originating emails permanent, I would be most likely to develop a new, smaller, modified mailing list, based on your input. Currently, I send six identical emails for a general mailing like this, in order not to have more than fifty names for my Outlook program to handle in any one email. But, I have no clue how many people actually read them, or truly still desire to receive them, since the list of the last couple of years was a merging of several, and so many people are utilizing social media now, like Facebook. Given the possibility of utilizing a new list in 2018, I will begin developing it with the names of those who reply to this email indicating a desire to be on such a list, anyone who replied to my Christmas email similarly, and each one of you who sent condolences to me. Those emails are still in my inbox, and were greatly appreciated. The fact that I still have them, allows me to have names with which to begin a new list, if desired.
CHRISTMAS EMAIL FOLLOW-UP
The information in this section was regarding my dad's tribute
bench at Sholom Park in Florida.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF MY LISTS AND USES FOR THOSE INTERESTED
I actually began my mailing list around three decades ago with the advent of the poet's circle. It was the group of people helping me cover my booth hours at Ledge Craft Lane when I first took my poetry and photography there. the poet's circle evolved over time along with a touch of william, the addition of Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center (originally called Cherokee Bill's Trade Center & Counsel House), and the opening of the original Teaching & Sharing Center as a sole proprietorship at the 417 South Bridge Street address twenty-two years ago. The address had been my State Farm Insurance office for most of the twenty years prior to that. My list mostly received newsletters pertaining to what I was doing, and interesting tidbits I ran across. Once I ventured into the world of the Internet, I developed two lists. One connected to what I was doing, and the other for family and friends related information. Birthday emails became a part of the lists as a carryover from my State Farm Insurance days. I used to send a personally signed birthday card to each of my policyholders, and remembered occasionally having someone come in (usually an elderly person) and thank me, indicating it was the only birthday card they had received. That had a big impact on me, and stuck with me over the years. Christmas emails, which also led to other holiday emails, started several years back when Donna and I did not get around to finding time to send out regular paper Christmas cards. That has been the case for quite a number of years now, so I was glad I had added them. All of that merged together in 2015. While it was a necessary step, so I did not spend time I did not have producing separate emails for the same occasion, ever since my early days on the Internet when somebody hijacked my computer to send out spam without my knowledge, I have always been concerned about people receiving too many emails from me. It has remained an emotional burden, and impacted significantly the lengths I go to for security, and how I packaged my emails.
I am not one of those people who needs to be heard. But God has given me great gifts and a very blessed life as a result of turning it all over to Him. Scripture tells us that the person to whom much has been given, much will be expected. I have tried to faithfully respond to that expectation. But most days I am pretty tired. Especially looking around and seeing all the things begun but still uncompleted. We will see how this goes. I will of course still reply to emails, and utilize them as an alternative to telephone calls when needed. Next, are a couple of items I set aside that I thought would be good to close out with . . .
Also for those interested . . .
Love, Our First and Final Home – A Daily Meditation from
Human history is one giant wave of unearned grace, and you are now another wave crashing onto the sands of time, edged forward by the many waves behind you. You are a fully adopted son or daughter in God’s one eternal family. To accept such an objective truth is the only sense in which you need to be a Christian or a believer. It is the best and deepest understanding of how the Risen Christ spreads his forgiving heart through history. It is not a role or office that we are passing on—that is not the meaning of “apostolic succession.” We are passing on the very love of God from age to age. Apostle means one who is “sent,” and we are all sent to advance the history of divine love through space and time.
Saints and mystics such as Francis and Clare of Assisi, Lady Julian of Norwich, and so many others have passed this baton on to those who would receive it. They would not be honored or even interested in us pulling them out of their single place in the eternal divine Flow and making an exception or idol of them. They joined the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) and are most honored by you now getting in line with everybody else, just as they did in their time. We are saved by simply remaining in the one circle of life and love, and not by standing separate or superior.
There is only One Love that will lead and carry you across when you die. If you are already at home with Love here, you will quite readily move into the eternal home of Love, which most of us call heaven. Death is not a changing of worlds, as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding. If you get love here, you have found the eternal home base and you will easily and naturally live forever.
Life is not about being correct but about being connected. At all costs, stay connected! Our only holiness is by participation and surrender to the Body of Love, not by any private performance contest. This is the joining of hands from generation to generation that can and will change the world. Love is One, and this Love is either shared and passed on or it is not the Great Love at all. The One Love is always eager, and, in fact, such eagerness is precisely the giveaway that we are dealing with something divine and infinite.
Only love can move effectively across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy, a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, exactly like water. In fact, there is no form of life that does not need water. No wonder water is such a universal spiritual symbol.
When you die, you are precisely the capacity you have developed to give and to receive love. Your recognition of this is your own “final judgment” of yourself, which means you become responsible for what you now see—not shamed or even rewarded, but just deeply responsible. Not surprisingly, this seems to be the universal testimony of people who have gone through near-death experiences—and returned to tell about them.
If you have not received or will not give this gift of love to others, your soul remains tied to a small, empty world which is probably what we mean by hell. God can only give love to those who want it.
If you still need to grow in love and increase your capacity to trust Love, God makes room for immense growth surrounding the death experience itself, which is probably what we mean by purgatory. Time is a mental construct of humans. Why would growth be limited to this part of our lives? God and the soul live in an eternal now.
If you are already at home in love, you will easily and quickly go to the home of love, which is surely what we mean by heaven. There the growth never stops and the wonder never ceases. If life is always change and growth, eternal life must be infinite possibility and growth!
So by all means, every day, and in every way, we must choose to live in love—it is mostly a decision—and even be eager to learn the ever deeper ways of love—which is the unearned grace that follows from the decision!
I can only end with Pope Francis’ plea and question from “The Joy of the Gospel”: “So what are we waiting for?”
Well, with my moratorium on originating emails, I would like to wish each of you in advance a very happy and joy filled birthday in 2017. May you have wonderful holidays of fun or rest. And may God guide and bless your new beginnings every day of the coming year.
P.S. The New Year's image above is of a sunrise from the shore of Lake Huron. Taken almost 25 years ago, Donna and I had only recently met, and were on a cross-country ski outing with two other individuals from the church singles group she was a part of. It is one of quite a number of photographs I took of the sunrise (a role and a half of 35mm film). Occasionally, I can indeed be a morning person. That is, if God gives me a big enough push to actually get me in motion. J
P.P.S. A reminder that I have set up a What Is New page linked at the top of my homepage on my wsharing website. It is my hope to get back to some website work in 2017. Since I will not be announcing any changes or additions by email in 2017, I developed this page so that those who are interested can see at a glance what has been added.
My standard 'General Notes' followed my signature as with all my emails. They were eliminated here as outdated and for space considerations.