"We Are More Alike"


I am a recently retired Earth and Environmental Science high school teacher, having taught super young people at Hermitage HS on Parham Road for 19 years. Prior to that I worked for a small family owned manufacturer of wood products, Potomac Supply, in Kinsale, VA. Connecting the two occupations, you can see that something having to do with nature gets my interest quickly. So in order to introduce myself to you, I think I’ll have you join me on a hike, a favorite avocation.


Being raised in WV, I am comfortable with the mountains. I often consider the mountains my second home for worship, GPPC being my home church. Walking a trail is like going to church. The urgent noise of our everyday world is replaced with calm and the forests draw me much as walking into a sanctuary. Chirps of crickets and hums from bumblebees work the magic of choir. There are plenty of wooden or stone pews to choose from; and, from time to time I use them for rest and contemplation. Scripture comes to me from remembered passages such as these new favorites: “all glory to God, who is able through His (Her) mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Eph 3:20) or “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me”. (Job 42:2-3) Praise with humility—delightful companions!


It’s time to move again. Forest, sun, and wind provide the setting for sermon. Diversity was the theme I chose to reflect upon. I’m struck by the diversity that’s everywhere. Trees share space with grasses and shrubs, everybody about the business of living. Even within the groups there is great diversity. Oaks, maples, beech, apple, and many, many more kinds of trees are together successfully. And what relies on the trees– beetles, fungi, bees, deer, squirrels, eloquent birds, and, of course, people when they choose– are part of this Grand Mix. I tried to teach Environmental students a simple yet profound truth to add to their tool kit for life: everything is connected. Can’t miss that in the forest!


My offering is my presence, willfully given. Leaving the trail comes with its own closure too. Trail worship can provide a settled, renewed spirit better poised to accept the challenges ahead. When I leave the trail, a bit of the Peace of God that passes all understanding typically accompanies me.


I’m going to finish by sharing a favorite poem from Maya Angelou that is now used as a commercial. Don’t let that technological appropriation distract from hearing the poet. Many of you know this one.


I note the obvious differences

in the human family.

Some of us are serious,

Some thrive on comedy.


Some declare their lives are lived

as true profundity,

and others claim they really live

the real reality.


The variety of our skin tones

can confuse, bemuse, delight,

brown and pink and beige and purple,

tan and blue and white.


I’ve sailed upon the seven seas

and stopped in every land,

I’ve seen the wonders of the world

not yet one common man.


I know ten thousand women

called Jane and Mary Jane,

but I’ve not seen any two

who really were the same.


 Mirror twins are different

although their features jibe,

and lovers think quite different thoughts

while lying side by side.


We love and lose in China,

we weep on England’s moors,

and laugh and moan in Guinea,

and thrive on Spanish shores.


We seek success in Finland,

are born and die in Maine.

In minor ways we differ,

in major we’re the same.


 I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

but we are more alike my friends,

than we are unalike.


We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.

 We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.


Human Family by Maya Angelou, as offered at https://allpoetry.com/Human-Family


It is the differences within GPPC that helped me find a comfortable home of worship. As I begin my second Session service at GPPC, the awareness that we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike attends me. Hopefully I’ve given you some inroads into who I am.


Steve Reppert graciously contributed this reflection as part of our incoming elders series. Each member of the new Session class of 2019 is featured here this summer.