Today is Superbowl Sunday. I do not understand football. I don’t even know for sure who is playing. But I know that a whole lot of other people will be tuned in to see grown, handsomely-paid men chase a bit of pigskin around a field! We will probably turn the tv on just to be part of the North American cultural experience.
Superbowl Sunday is one of those events that help us mark the days. But lately I have been thinking more about touchstones than touchdowns. It started as I chatted with a friend who had just moved to a new home. She talked about the fact that while she was excited about the new place there was some regret in that her daughter, now an adult, had just lost the only home she had ever known. I shared that I feel particularly blessed because the farm house I grew up in is still in the family and I am welcomed back home whenever I want and I can walk about as if it is still my own. It is a geographical touchstone for me. Sometimes I just need to go home. What a privilege that I still can.
I have spiritual touchstones too. There are scripture verses that mean a great deal to me. One I like is from 2 Timothy, “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control”. The other is from Isaiah, “Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth. Do you not see it?”
Longtime friendships are a touchstone for me. I still have deep and abiding friendships with women that I have known from infancy. Sometimes I just need to talk to one of them to be reassured or to share a laugh and in that be restored.
Music is a touchstone for me. Familiar songs that offer truth and inspiration often pop into my head at just the right time to set me back on track and keep me grounded.
One of the other huge touchstones for me is a faith community. I have always, for all my 61 years, been part of a faith community. I have moved around the country but wherever I have been, student, worker, minister, I have sought out a congregation to be part of; people to worship with, people to questions with, people to doubt with, people to rejoice with and people to just be with.
For a number of months now I have been part of a ‘Circle of Trust’. This is a small group based on the teaching of Parker Palmer. We have ‘touchstones’ that are part of our being together. They are a code of conduct or a way of being together so that we each understand what to expect and in order to build a safe place for conversation and reflection. Sometimes these touchstones are hard as they seem a bit artificial to the regular way of conversation but they do work and over time I have come to appreciate the way of silence and openness to one another.
I wonder what are some touchstones for you? What do you look to for stability or security? What gives you strength in times of doubt? If you feel able to, please offer some touchstones in the comments section at the end of this blog. I look forward to hearing of your touchstones.