My wife, Nancy, and I were driving home from a spectacular morning in our Yarmouth church last Sunday and basking in the experience and the beauty of a spectacular winter’s day in Maine.

I had been moved to tears on a number of occasions that morning. It had been Music Sunday and children, youth and adults had shared and led us in music – hymns, choir anthems, various musical selections accompanied by and featuring hand-bells, organ, piano, bassoon, flute, trumpet. A children’s choir enchanted us. Little sisters who weren’t old enough to sing stood, dressed in their Sunday best, with their older sisters, a bit self-conscious but delighted at the same time to be a part of it all.

After the service, a good number of us met over a soup lunch to hear from members of families in our congregation and community who are multi-racial by virtue of marriage or adoption. The gathering was part of a series we’ve undertaken to learn about our conscious and unconscious racism. The series began with an all-church read of Debby Irving’s book “Waking Up White.” The stories told brought me to tears for the hurt experienced and the profound trust and bonding generated by their being shared and respected. Love happened.

My tears often surprise me but are always welcomed. They are expressions of my heart, my soul, of my being alive. Prompted by deep sorrow or joy, they come from a place within where what I love and dream of, love and work for, love and know as sacred are either desecrated by cruelty and blindness or profoundly affirmed by sacred moments of courage, compassion and beauty experiencing with others.

Gratitude prompted tears of heartfelt joy on the way home. Back in our 20s, decades ago, Nancy and I redirected our lives, inspired and guided by the values and teachings of Jesus, to spend the bulk of our lives’ labor on Love’s purposes as we understood them in our liberal Christian tradition. We were college graduates on the secular cultural career escalator to security and success, which meant a business career for me. I wasn’t excited about being a businessman, but it was what my father had done. In my mid-20s I began to realize that it might be others’ calling but it wasn’t mine.

The little Congregational church we were attending wasn’t too exciting, but I heard things there that I didn’t hear elsewhere, things about justice and compassion, moral courage and personal meaning. The decision to pursue Christian ministry was life-affirming for me, not so much for Nancy. We challenged and grew one another. That we shared and share the same values and sense of humor gave us enough leverage to save the marriage and set out with our three children on a journey to wherever it led.

My teary ride home last Sunday was inspired by the profound gratitude that what we gave our lives to those many years ago, God is one name for it, the way of Jesus another, gave us what it promised. It has brought us to love, love of one another, love of our children and theirs, love for each and every person, whether we like them or not, love of our church, love of the Earth, love of justice and compassion and kindness and beauty, of life itself, in other words, love of God. We are blessed and so glad that we were led to the road we have taken. And, as you might suspect, I am a bit teary as I write this.

Bill Gregory is a writer, spiritual teacher, retired minister in the United Church of Christ. He can be reached at [email protected]