Greetings! As I write this reflection, I’ve started my February vacation. The past few days have been in the 40s or even low 50s, and the sunlight is lingering into the five o’clock hour. On the way home from church yesterday, I’m pretty sure I saw Billy Aquaviva and his crew placing taps. Spring won’t be long, with its muddy roads and frost heaves, and the sweet smell of wood fires and boiling sap. Though Lent is just beginning, my heart anticipates the Easter hymn that reminds us that “in the bulb, there is a flower.”
I’ve mentioned here before the fact that I tend to be a hope-filled person, though not always an optimist. My essential stance in life is that the world is dominated by good people doing good things powered by love and compassion. On some levels, I feel that we’re always on the brink of Spring, when the beauty of yellow-green leaves will unfurl from even the most dead-looking branches. And I’m fully aware that it’s a gift to feel that way. But I have to admit, even the congenitally hopeful among us have been having a hard time this winter, regardless of political affiliation. It’s just plain hard to live in a society that feels as divided and divisive as our world has felt throughout the most recent national elections and beyond.
One thing I will say about the current political climate that has been good for me, personally, is that it has ignited both my activist life and my prayer life. I have found myself at more vigils and rallies in the past two months than I had been to in years before this era. I have held signs (not my thing, as a life-long introvert), written letters to elected officials, and encouraged my friends and family to do the same. And I have prayed and prayed and prayed … for the vulnerable of our world who face a reduction in support, for Mother Earth in this era of climate change and a weakened Environmental Protection Agency, for my friends who are courageous in seeking change and those who are steeped in despair, and for my own heartache. I have tried to pray for my enemies, even though it’s hard for me to even admit that I might classify anyone as an enemy. But mostly, I have prayed for God to be present in and through this whole season.
This newsletter goes out to a wide audience, and many of you reading this now may not ever attend church. That’s fine, of course – Sunday morning worship isn’t for everyone! But I hope that you know that if you struggle with these same issues I’ve listed above, our community church might be a place where you could find courage and spiritual nourishment, sanctuary and peace, community connection and love. We seek to be an unabashedly Christ-following community, but individual understandings of faith vary widely within our worshiping body. We are welcoming of diverse opinions, and open to honesty around issues of faith and doubt. Please know you’re very welcome here!
When I don’t know exactly what to pray, I often turn to the psalms for guidance. Recently, I’ve been spending time with the very familiar Psalm 121. Maybe you’ll find it helpful, too:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
God will not let your foot be moved;
God who keeps you will not slumber.
God who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
My help comes from the Lord, as well as from this vibrant, kooky, open-minded, courageous congregation that I’m blessed to call my church family. Please know we’d love to share this journey with you!
And may we all know peace.