A place as truly beautiful as beautifully true

Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

This line from Robert Frost’s “Birches” has been as close to a life motto as I’ll get. I first heard it in eighth grade, when I stayed after school to finish a project. As I was working, the teacher recited it as he gazed out the window at a stand of birches. I was awestruck.

Yes, the beauty of the blank verse overwhelmed me, but this poem about identity touched me because I was at the age when many of us wrestle with the questions of “Who am I?” and “What shall I do with my life?”

Now, I find I’ve arrived at the Christine Center when it is in a similar transition. I’ve been pondering the questions of “What is this place?” and “What role does it play in the lives of the people who come here?”  Our daily work is aimed at spiritual deepening, and that often means we’re a refuge from the meanness of the world beyond the center.

It’s when I’m weary of considerations, And life is too much like a pathless wood Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs Broken across it, and one eye is weeping From a twig’s having lashed across it open.

Life beyond the center is often a dark and pathless wood through which we’re all trying to find our way, and the indifference, bigotry, and brutality of that life too often leaves us weeping. Many people come here, at least in part, to be restored by the compassion, serenity, and harmony that make the center sacred. When I ask the people who work here what they love most about it, the most frequent answer is “the peace.”  So, it that what we are, a sanctuary? I think we’re that and more.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

My dad would say with a sigh that some members of his congregation were “Too heavenly for any earthly good.”  The Christine Center is not that. Our ultimate goal is global transformation and that requires a more active role. “Earth’s the right place for love,” and this is where we best cultivate and share it.

So are we a clearing in the woods or a beacon showing the way?  Yes, we are.  

I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again

Our spirits can reach heavenward, because our feet never leave the ground.  Early on, I heard Sister Gabriele describe the center as “a woodland sanctuary offering spiritual deepening to all,” and it rang as truly beautiful as beautifully true.  I use it daily as a reminder of what the Christine Center is all about:  By offering the sanctuary for spiritual deepening we are transforming the world.

There is another answer to “What is this place?”  It is also my sacred cause, and you’re invited to join me.  Can the world be changed one prayer, one meditation, one conversation, or one act of love at a time? I’ve come to believe it’s the only way it can be. “Earth’s the right place for love,” and we’re here now so let’s get started.

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