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You know that famous Wesleyan question, “how is it with your soul?” Does anyone else find it to be a daunting icebreaker? I have often heard from small group leaders that it can be a challenge to get their groups to go beyond surface conversations or fill in the blank Bible studies.

I was standing there watching people come forward who have become cherished family members to me, and I was dipping my thumb in this glass bowl of pitch black ashes—a symbol not only of penitence, but of mortality. I was making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. Some of them were weeping, but with all of them, the sense of heaviness was as palpable as the deep, familial love we shared.

Will you sit with the helpless ones and hear their cries even if you are powerless to break through the walls that bind them? Will you sit and ache with them so they don’t suffer alone? Will you honor the cries that no one else hears and give validity to their pain? Will you face death with a tenacious hope that resurrection is always possible?

Hospitality and care of others always disrupts normal life, and while anticipating that disruption is one thing, restructuring your life to include the rhythms you most need only happens on purpose. We see that it will not be enough to have good intentions about our spiritual growth; if we are not intentional about building these things into our everyday lives, they will not happen.

I am reading Wendell Berry- "The Art of the Commonplace." I have read and re-read one piece this week. He is speaking of the general...

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