I am delighted to share another beautiful selection to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Michael Moore’s reflection “Finding Hope on the Threshold.”
When I was asked to contribute a Monk in the World guest post, I was not exactly sure what direction the post would take. I looked back at some of my earlier posts for the Abbey and was noticed how what was going on in my life at the time when I was writing informed my post. The last post that I wrote was written in the middle of 2020 amidst the isolation created by the global COVID-19 Pandemic.
It is now nearly three years since (almost to the month) the shutdown and a lot has happened. My wife Denise and I moved from the church in Estes Park, Colorado to a new call in Carrollton, Georgia. During the late summer and early fall of 2021, we crisscrossed the country (from Carrollton to Austin, Minnesota, to Florence, Alabama, to Mobile, Alabama) caring for my dad, Denise’s dad (in Florence), and her former mother-in-law (in Mobile) who was still a very dear friend and grandmother to Denise’s two sons.
We somehow managed all of that driving and work while at the same time I was pastoring a church and working with them in-person and via Zoom, emails, and phone calls as they tried to figure out how to come out of the pandemic and re-imagine what church could be post-pandemic. During that time, Denise’s dad, and her boys’ grandmother both died. My dad (in Austin) finally made it out of the hospital, but his cognitive decline was increasing.
On December 26, 2021, I contracted COVID-19 and was laid up for about ten days. I continued to suffer from the impact of long-COVID and had to resign from the church for health reasons on February 6, 2022. Now we find ourselves on the Gulf Coast of Alabama where I am serving a church as their Interim/Transitional Minister.
As I look back at these last few years, I am slowly realizing that we had a lot of traumatic thresholds that we were able to walk through thanks to the grace of Godde and the prayers, support, and encouragement of dear friends who are family. It was through Christine’s guided meditation at a recent Wisdom Council retreat that I had time to reflect prayerfully on these thresholds. The word that came to my heart was Hope. Whether I realized it or not, during the most traumatic times of transition, hope was present even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Hope was standing on the threshold with us and was guiding us in Love.
Over the past seven years I have spent a lot of time studying and reflecting on the writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Sadly, he died on December 10th, 1968, which was 27 years to the day after he entered the monastery. His writings have had and continue to have a profound influence on my own life and spiritual journey.
During the Wisdom Council retreat, a prayer of Thomas Merton’s which has played a significant role in my own spiritual journey came to mind. My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thoughts in Solitude, p. 79)
Hope stands on the various thresholds of life and Hope is accompanied by Love. As I walk with the congregation that I am currently serving through the process of transformation as they seek to call a new pastor, Merton and thresholds have played a big role in that ministry. Whatever you, dear reader, may be going through in your own journey as you approach your own thresholds, my prayer is that you will sense the presence of Hope and Love with you. May you, like Merton, …not fear, for Godde is ever with you, and Godde will never leave you to face your perils alone.
Michael Moore is a retired USAF Chaplain and pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who currently lives in Orange Beach, Alabama with his wife and partner in life and ministry, Denise. His undergraduate degree is in Business Administration (University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire) and he earned his Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (Saint Paul, MN). He served two small, yoked Presbyterian Churches in rural Fergus Falls, MN for three years before going on Active Duty with the USAF for 21 years. Following his retirement from the Air Force, he has served churches in Florida, Colorado, Georgia, and Alabama. He has a Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation from Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.