Hearing God’s Voice on Middle Path

Middle Path runs right through the center of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. The Middle Path, or as Anglicans and Episcopalians call it, the via media, is the path between Roman Catholicism and Puritanism. It is by following the via media that one comes closest to finding the truth. But, can you also find God on Middle Path?

Earlier this summer, over 50 faith leaders from diverse religious traditions gathered in the buildings along Kenyon College’s Middle Path. We came to find the voices we want to use in the public square.

I can’t say whether I found my voice. That is for others to judge. What I do know is that I heard God’s voice.

Each morning I would rise to choirs of birds outside my window with their joyful and urgent chorus heralding the sun’s rise. God was up and about moving in the world. What was I still doing in bed?

red male cardinal sitting on wooden beam of a fenceAs I walked through Kenyon’s verdant campus, Pentecost-red cardinals danced their way amongst the trees and along the paths as if to show me the way. Turn here. Follow me there. “God is hiding just beyond the next stand of trees,” they sang.

The rustling leaves hinted at the Holy Spirit looking over my shoulder as I paused to consult my map and chart my course to the next class. Would my offering of writing be good enough? Did I have anything to say? “Silence. Listen,” the leaves whispered.

On the morning that the Larsen C ice shelf broke away from Antarctica, the heavens opened and rain inundated the campus. Storm drains overflowed and roads were flooded. Was this a sign of God’s wrath?

At the center of Kenyon College, the Church of the Holy Spirit tolls the hours. As the week progressed, the toll became more melancholy. How much longer would it take to hear God’s voice?

And then I heard it.

God spoke to me through the words of my fellow searchers.

God spoke to me through the forgiveness of a daughter for her father’s alcoholism.

God spoke to me through the confession of a white father when he reacted with fear upon being surprised by his adopted teenage black son.

God spoke to me through the sadness and anger of a woman cut off from her friends and family because of her political views.

God spoke to me through the joy of a rabbi as she helps a congregant recover her Jewish heritage generations after forced conversion.

God spoke to me through the struggle of a priest contending with how to become the prophet he is called to be.

God spoke to me through the poem of absolution offered by a woman for the broken souls she and her ex-husband had become.

God spoke to me through the absent voices—those who did not feel welcome at the table.

Yes. You can hear God’s voice on Middle Path.

Photo of Middle Path provided by Kenyon College’s Office of Communications. All pertinent rights are retained by the College and the photo is used with permission here.

Published by Rob Radtke

President & CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development, husband, father, friend, traveler, reader, New Yorker.

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