My 100th blog post seems like a good time to look back and ponder this experience. I published my first blog post back in October, mostly as a way to publish my sermons for congregation members who were not able to attend our worship services, but also to share some other “pastoral ponderings” along the way. As I wrote in my first post, “to ponder is to ‘think about something carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.’ Seems like a good idea these days, doesn’t it? In this impatient world of ours, it is more challenging than ever to slow down and ponder. This blog is my attempt to do so – I want both to slow down, and think carefully about what is on my mind, and then to share it with you. And to do so from a particular perspective – don’t we all do so from a particular perspective? – in my case, that of a pastor.”
So, that is what I have been doing. Slowing down, thinking carefully about what is on my mind, and sharing it with you through this blog. It has been a very rewarding journey, and I have learned some things along the way. Here are three things I have learned that I thought I might share with you:
First, I have been blessed to become part of a community that I never knew existed – the blogging community. I have enjoyed following more and more of my fellow bloggers, and I am consistently amazed at their creativity, faithfulness, and diversity. The one thing that it seems we all have in common is our love both of reading and of writing. And unlike other social media like Facebook or Twitter, blogging lends itself to thinking more deeply about all manner of things. Bloggers think deeply, and then write creatively. And I suspect that many of my fellow bloggers have discovered what I also have discovered – that writing in this way is a very helpful discipline for gathering and organizing one’s thoughts – for really thinking through what we believe. I have journaled for years, a discipline that I have found to be very helpful. But I have discovered that blogging is helpful in a different sort of way – because now I am writing what I believe in order to share it with anyone who wants to read it. And that motivates me to take it more seriously than a journal, and write a little more carefully.
Second, I have been quite surprised by how international the blogging community is. We Americans often think we are the only ones here. 😉 But I’ve noticed that I have had people visit my blog from many different countries around the world, and I have enjoyed reading the blogs of people from all around our world, too. I am writing this reflection just after the Church has celebrated Pentecost, when the gospel was miraculously shared “in the native language of each” (Acts 2:6); and although the blogs I read are all in English, I still get a sense of the global nature of the Church and of our community through the experience of blogging. In recent weeks (months?!), it has been very interesting to read bloggers from around the world sharing their experience of living through this worldwide pandemic in which we all find ourselves. No matter where we live, we share similar fears and concerns, and we have had our lives impacted in ways more similar than I would have guessed. The world-wide blogging community has truly made our world seem much smaller to me, in a way that I treasure. And even if I never write another post, I feel sure that I will continue to keep up my blog just to read what others are writing!
Third, I have learned not to pay close attention to numbers, which is a difficult thing for a blogger to do. WordPress keeps track of almost every statistic imaginable, and it is all-too-easy to spend time pouring over these numbers. When a post does “well,” it is easy to be encouraged, and when a post does “poorly,” it is easy to get discouraged. But numbers are not everything. I typically share a blog post with a prayer that it be a blessing to those who read it, and if one person is blessed by it, then who I am to decide it wasn’t worth writing? And, truth be told, there are posts that have helped me so much in the writing of them that it really wouldn’t matter whether anyone else read them! So, what I have learned in this experience is simply to write, as well as I can and as faithfully as possible, to send what I have written out into the world with a prayer, and then to leave the rest to God.
So, these are a few things I have learned through this experience of blogging, and I look forward to continuing this journey. If you love to read and write and have not yet started a blog, I encourage you to start one. And when you do, let me know, so that I can read along!
Since this is my 100th blog post, I thought I’d close with the 100th psalm, a wonderful psalm of thanksgiving, as a way to give thanks for to God for this adventure. I usually quote from the NRSV translation, but this time I want to use a wonderful paraphrase of the psalms by Nan Merill called “Psalms for Praying.” I love the way her paraphrase of Psalm 100 ends, and it seems like a perfect closing prayer for this post. Here it is:
Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve Love with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life! Know that the Beloved of your heart is the Divine Presence! Love created us, and we belong to the Most High; We are born to be loving, expressions of the Creator's Divine Plan. Open the gates of your heart with gratitude and enter Love's court with praise! Give thanks to the Beloved, bless Love's holy Name! For Love is of God, and lives in your heart forever, With faith, truth, and joy, now and in all that is to come.