Wednesday, November 29, 2017



“You’re in the inspiration business.  Would you give a talk to Aquarium volunteers and staff about the ‘inspiration’ part of our mission statement – ‘To inspire conservation of the ocean?’ We do OK on the conservation part, but what is inspiration?”

So I gave that talk at the Aquarium, some years ago.  I had already been a volunteer guide there for a while, but I had only just revealed to the staff that I was a minister.   (My clergy colleagues know how it is sometimes easier to be a ‘civilian.’)  It was then they sought my “inspiration” on inspiration.

I’ve been suggesting in these weekly posts this month, November Gratitude Month, some ways to say Thank You to the ocean.  (Plastic Straws Suck, “Still In” on Climate Action, Marine Thanksgiving Parade.) 

Here’s my last suggestion; Be Inspired and Be an Inspiration.

-Breathe in, literally, in-spire.  For every four breaths, thank the ocean for three of them.  Ocean plants created 75% of the oxygen we all breath, on the coast and inland.  Say thank you all day as you breathe.

-Spend time by water.  Half an hour by a creek, a morning cleaning up an urban stream, walk in wonder by a lake or bay, visit Pacific Grove and our Blue Theology Mission Station.  “If there is magic in this world, it is contained in water.” (Loren Eiseley)

-I told the story in my inspiration talk of the pastor who was late and lost for a talk at a unfamiliar church.  Panicking, she saw a car with the bumper sticker “To believe is to care, to care is to do.  United Church of Christ.”  She knew that car was going where she wanted to go, “I’ll follow that car!” and it led her right to the church.  I challenged the Aquarium community to be that kind of saving beacon in the dark to the lost and the late, looking for hope.

-I preached my heart out that night at the Aquarium about how faith communities can serve as trusted partners with ocean science and conservation groups.  And the first question was, “Since you are a minister, you obviously don’t believe in evolution.  How do you square that with your volunteering here at the Aquarium, a science based organization?”  I paused, breathed in (in-spired!), and said that I believed that evolution was one of God’s really good ideas, that God gave us brains for a reason and was happy when we used them.  (Corny, but true.) The audience took a huge breath in relief.  Moral: sometimes you have to keep saying it over and over, don’t assume, find creative ways to inspire others, keep shining the beacon in the dark for the lost and the late.

-Best inspiration: spend a day poking around water with a kid.

We’re booking 2018 inspiration time by the sea for youth and intergenerational groups and clergy renewal time at our Pacific Grove Blue Theology Mission Station.

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