“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”

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I was planning a pilgrimage to Ireland with Jennine Weeks, the now retired Adult Christian Ed Director at Christ Church Methodist. We planned this pilgrimage to Ireland as a grand finale and celebration of her long and fruitful ministry in Louisville. Then COVID struck and we postponed the pilgrimage for a few months, then again and again and after five times postponing, we are going to try again in April. Of course, I’m looking for a 4-leaf clover.

All of this delay gave me time to write the book pictured above. At the same time, it gave me the opportunity to research and prepare for Ireland with our guiding theme on “Celtic Spirituality.” I came across plenty of saints and many Irish poets. The name of William Butler Yeats kept popping up.

In the deep recesses of my mind, I recalled his poem “The Second Coming,” and his eerie line: “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” It was one of those lines we all memorized back in the 60s. It was on posters, bumper stickers, and kegs of beer.

While writing the book on James and thinking about the next generation and how they seem to be rejecting the church I could not get out of my head this line from W.B. Yeats. It bugged me. It haunted me. It was a line, a memory, a message from long ago that hit me once like a boxer, but now it appeared in the 21st Century and it has lost its punch. I have changed.

The words no longer speak to me. They are weak. Don’t get me wrong. Things have fallen apart in my life over the years. And I look around at our city, country and the world where things really are falling apart. Yes, I can get paranoid quickly.

But … over the years, I have found that the center holds. The spiritual growth, the transformation, the change that has taken place within has moved me from being self-centered to having a centered self in Christ.

It is huge shift. But my point is not about me. Herein, lies the reason for the book. The book is written for this next generation. I yearn for them to have a centered-self that will hold, that will not break, that will help them spiritually grow, much less grow-up. You see, as they reject the church, I wonder who will fill the void. Who will guide them and direct them and lead them in spiritual formation and growth? Lady Gaga? LeBron?

Anyone can lead. The problem is we can also be misled. A centered life in Christ is true. It is the way to live. I highly recommend it. I would love to talk about it. But this next generation needs an invitation, a welcome, a word of hospitality. Intergenerational relationships are important. Wisdom is the name of the game. We need you. The church needs mentors. The next generation is looking to you. Together, as James writes, “we can be doers of the Word.”

Picture of Robin Jennings

Robin Jennings

Robin T. Jennings is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, and an accomplished author, speaker and teacher who inspires his audiences with Biblical guidance and spiritual insights into everyday life. Whether he has the opportunity to speak to churches, businesses or organizations, Robin’s lifetime of work in spiritual transformation and renewal connects individuals with timely topics such as the importance of community, hope, identity and the search for meaning which are inevitably woven into his message.

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