Brené Brown talks about how vulnerability is the key to connection, connection being the thing that brings purpose and meaning -- in essence, why we all are here. And yet she also talks about how absolutely terrifying vulnerability can be. No one wants to feel shame. No one wants to feel exposed. No one wants to feel hurt. And yet it is vulnerability. Risk. Putting ourselves out there that is the key to living fully, finding meaning, and the connection we all are longing for.
I bring this up now because these are not normal times we are living in and I fear we may be shutting down. Daily, I am bombarded by news headlines and social media, stories of fear, injustice, corruption, and sheer stupidity. There seems to be a collective sense of despair. And the divisions between us are deep. For those politically different than me, I do not understand you. And it is clear you do not understand me. It is difficult to be so misinterpreted and misunderstood when I feel so passionately. And it is unfortunate because there are so many problems in our country that I believe could be solved if we worked together. Thus the despair grows.
So how do we have hope in a hopeless world? And how do we avoid the temptation to hole up in our bunker and bury our heads in the sand, resolving to play it safe and keep our guards up? While there seems to be a collective sense of despair, I feel there is also a collective brace. And yet…it is not the brace but rather the embrace that is needed. It is not apathy but courage that is called for. It is not despair but hope that must rise up.
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and you work; you don't give up. - Anne Lamott
Hope. It is persistent. Resilient. Stubborn. Hope persists despite the tragedy, despite the deaths and the violence and the injustices. Hope has a way of surprising us when we least expect it, rising up in spite of all our efforts to push it down, awakening desires that our cynicism wrote off a long time ago. Hope, I believe, is the perfect antidote for these days of despair.
But in what or whom do we hope? For me, my hope is grounded in this idea of connection -- why we all are here. This connection to God. To love. To a God who is love. And to each other, all of us beloved children of God. For this is the greatest story of love and redemption that the world has ever known. You see, I believe that God is about the business of making everything new and that one day, in spite of what the headlines say, everything will be made right and we will live in a just world. Every divide and every wound will be healed. Heaven will join earth and there will be no more war, no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain. No more corruption and no more lies, no death, sickness or poverty, no racism, violence or abuse. And we will live together in peace, all of us brothers and sisters, black, brown, yellow, white, as children of God. And this is not just pie in the sky. We don’t have to wait for death to experience this heaven utopia. No, I believe that heaven is near. Though one day it will come in fullness (and today is obviously not that day), it is a future we can we can bring to earth now.
Every time we welcome the stranger and the refugee. Every time we extend kindness towards our enemy. Every time we make the choice to open ourselves to love and to vulnerability. Every time we share a meal with the hungry or provide shelter for those shivering in the cold. Every time we choose to serve instead of pushing our way to the front. Every time we stand up for the poor or champion the cause of the oppressed. Every time we give the gift of presence and take the time to listen. Every time we give honor and dignity to those the world looks down upon. Every time we create beauty that calls our hearts towards the divine.
As The Practicing Church, this is our dream - to join God in the renewal of all things by practices that ground us in the love of God. As followers of Jesus, this is not a time for shrinking back or for burying our heads in the sand in despair. No, this is not a time for giving up. This is a time for courage. For showing up. For taking risks. For love and generosity. This is a time for hope. Great, big, stubborn hope.
There is so much hope in the human heart. - Albert Camus
by Jessica Ketola