Somehow it has been a whole decade since the magnificent Rev. Peter Gomes has passed away, and I spent some time this week listening to recordings of his sermons. In one of my favorites he reminds his listeners, mostly university folks, that the purpose is “that we not simply grow smarter, but that we grow better.” And then he describes the three ingredients to help us do so: reverence, humility, and courage.
I could write on and on about the wisdom of Rev. Gomes’ words, but what struck me even more strongly this week is the impact of hearing his unmistakable voice. The deliberate pacing and phrasing made me sit up straighter, and his dry delivery of gently sarcastic remarks made me laugh out loud.
Feeling this presence so vividly, I was reminded of a time several years ago when my cousin sent me an old voice message from our grandfather, who had passed away months earlier. I was walking down the street scrolling through messages, and when his voice came flooding into my ears I was so overwhelmed I had to sit down on a total stranger’s stoop to catch my breath.
Dear ones, our brains are such wonderful processors, able to consider ideas like the ones in these sermons and to reason deeply with their concepts. But somewhere deeper inside, where our brains attach to our bodies and souls, there is so much more.
The next time we feel a flutter upon seeing a loved one’s face, let’s linger in that flutter.
The next time a wafting scent brings a flashback to childhood, let’s reminisce.
The next time a voice from the past brings us to tears, let’s let them flow.
In doing so, we may become both smarter, and better.
I am happy to report that you can find Rev. Gomes’ sermons on your favorite podcasting service by just searching his name.
This week also marks the anniversary of the pandemic’s first impacts for many in the U.S. If you find yourself wanting to reflect on this past year, or to contemplate better times to come, we hope you might consider turning to Month of Sundays, which can be found at all of your favorite booksellers. One newly vaccinated friend recently mentioned that she’s bought a stack of books to gift as she begins to reconnect with loved ones who have been apart, as a way to say, “welcome back.”
Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor to date, where proceeds have allowed us to give more generously than usual to some of the most vital nonprofits around. We designed the book to be evergreen, and hope it will bring comfort and connection through times of ease and times of challenge alike.
Thank you for asking how to further support this project!