When Hope Is Hard To Find

Last Friday the world came to a stop. Too many children’s and adults’ lives ended senselessly. We are stunned, scared, and sad. For days we have cycled between tears and rage, bewilderment and determination for change. All of these feelings are right, and normal, and need to be felt. It may be a while before we find our balance, before we can turn to the lawmakers for action, before turn to each other for a shift in our culture of violence. Before we look to how our own community is punctuated with similar, yet smaller scale, events nearly daily.

(Look here for resources on grief and talking to children about tragic events.)

Yes, the past few days have been hard. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that we have so many good people in the world. We gathered on Sunday to look into each others eyes and see the spark of light that resides in us. We sang together and lit candles and hugged. We gathered online to share messages of love and caring, comforting our grief and shock. These are the days when we rely on our strength together to hold each other up. As the Carolyn Dade hymn says:

10561_484476871585771_634101886_nI am grateful for every one of you who lives your generous and outrageously loving life – you who share that life and love with the world. It makes a difference. We are building a world of peace. We commit ourselves to this hard work, of facing fear and anger and sadness because we have hope. We have hope because we have  love. May love guide us as we heal our grief and work for change.

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Thank you to UU Media Collaborative Works for these images.

And we don’t have to do it alone….

Friends,

I had a full week last week.  Full in the “PHEW, I am so glad it’s over!” kind of way.  Full in the “WOW! I am a productive worker!” kind of way.  Full in the, “OOF, I learned so much my brain is going to POP! kind of way.

And our lives are like that.

The projects and workshops I experienced last week seem to have little in common.  To name the highlights: finishing a curriculum on Neo-Paganism, going to an overnight workshop for Religious Educators in our district learning and using Soul Collage methods, also attending the “Walking the Talk” workshop on social action held at Channing with Rev. Richard Gilbert.

So that makes me glad for morning coffee and moments set aside to reflect and process information.   After thinking about the week, I see so clearly that all these varied topics are asking me to go deeper in my learning about myself and to share myself with others. We go inward to learn new ideas, but then it is our purpose to go out into the world a share them.

As a naturally shy person, I haven’t always embraced the practice of sharing my knowledge, my gifts and energy with others.  But lately, life is telling me to get out of my own way and make some changes.  I think people need to give part of themselves to deepen their faith.

I agree totally with Rev. Gilbert, who preaches that it is a spiritual practice to do service, to help others, to change broken systems and work for justice.  It is a spiritual practice to work with children, teaching them and working along side them.  It is a spiritual practice to do art, find meaning in our art and share the insights we find and strengthen our relationships.  It is a spiritual practice to get dirty, be on the “losing side” and begin again.  It is a spiritual practice to re-inspire a friend who has lost hope.

Social justice isn’t easy.  Working with children and youth is a wild ride.  Going out on a creative limb ain’t always sunshine and daisies, either.  We need a safe place where we trust that our friends will be careful with our emerging thoughts and our powerful feelings.  This week reminded me that Unitarian Universalism is one such sanctuary.  I am struck by how diverse, yet focused, our religion is.  We are energized by worship, searching for meaning and making a difference in the world.  We are made more powerful through journeying together, sharing truths, highs and lows.

And the title of this entry?  It is the last line of a hymn by Laila Ibrahim thatI sing when I need a lift:

“It’s a blessing we were born,
and it matters what we do,
What we know about god
is a piece of the truth,
Let the beauty we love
be what we do,
And we don’t have to do it alone.”