Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum, share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous module showing up in your lives.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended an overnight event with friends on their farm in northeastern Iowa’s rugged terrain. The occasion was a party and fundraiser for one-room Campton School’s new roof. Long since a real school, local folks work now to preserve Campton School as ‘museum in the making.’ We spent most of the evening and following morning on Hugh and Janine’s eighty acre, wooded homestead bidding in the silent auction; listening to live music from a hayrack stage and marveling at a bonfire leaping twenty feet into the still, cool twilight.

This was no religious or spiritually oriented happening, so I was quite surprised, confounded even, when soon after arriving I felt a sense of the holy creeping into my awareness. This can’t be right, I thought. How could this woodsy, noisy but convivial, time and place be holy for me? I can’t explain it, other than in terms of presence. We were a diverse group who came together at that place and time who were just present and enjoying each other’s company.

I’ve reflected on that experience every day since, thinking regardless of the circumstances: “I can be present here too. I can be silent. I can listen to what others are saying. I can bring my voice to ‘this party’ too!”

How do I connect all this with the content, questions or insights from the Forgiving Victim course? I’m not completely sure; but I think the connection with the Forgiving Victim course comes in real time, where we are free to pay attention to glimpses of the world God offers through God’s alternative Interpretive Center. Glimpses, which tell us that individual identity no longer is, nor was it ever really, dependent upon rivalry between persons, groups, nations, races, genders. No. True identity comes from that Holiness Who found me centered present in the woods of eastern Iowa. I think the connection comes in real time where, knowing I am always free to attend to Holiness present in all circumstances, I Am found centered present.