I have two personal mottoes I try to live by:
Go outside and play!
I’m never down. I’m either up, or getting up.
This past week found me reminding myself of the second one far more than the first. It was a really stressful week for me. It actually feels like at least two weeks have gone by since my last Monday Meditation. So much school work, and work-work, and house-work, and personal goals, and so many set-backs, and complications, and additional miscellaneous BS™.
There is a Chinese proverb: “Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.” The truth of the proverb is that there are processes in life that operate at their own tempo—creativity, grief and growing into the stature of Christ, to name a few. Trying to accelerate these processes doesn’t work very well.
Gay Clark Jennings (Tuesday, March 6)
I wonder if the corollary to this proverb is something along the lines of, “The river will go where it wants to go, don’t try to block it or tame it.” I don’t know if I have a problem with trying to rush things so much as I probably get in my own way too often, or get frustrated with the direction things sometimes take. I think the real message is to trust the process and my role in it.
When we have failed, are hurting, are struggling or are in pain, the healing that reaches deepest into our soul comes from being with other people and sharing in that struggle. When we are able to gather together as people of God, call upon the Lord for guidance and healing and talk honestly about who we are, what we are struggling with and how we can support one another, that is when we can truly begin to heal. In those moments we see that we are not that different from one another, but we see that we are all flawed and that we all yearn for a life of health and wholeness.
Shannon Ferguson Kelly (Wednesday, March 7)
Community and connection is something that is very important to me. But, when I’m in pain or scared, it’s sometimes difficult for me to reach out for help or even a hug. I don’t want to seem like I’m begging for attention or pity. Which is strange, since if someone reached out to me, my first instinct would be to comfort and assist them, not judge them or accuse them of being an attention-grabber. Weird, isn’t it? The way we automatically assume others will think the worst of us? Is that something wrong in our society or just a side effect that comes from stress?
Amazingly, when I do reach out, I generally get the hug and comfort I need. In the few times I have not, I’ve learned that I was just asking the wrong people. Those people either weren’t in a position to help me, because they are overwhelmed themselves, or they just aren’t the type I can rely on. In any case, it isn’t fair to judge all my friends by the failure of a very few.
The other thought this meditation brings up is the idea that everyone is suffering to one degree or another. We can support and help each other through this connection. But, at the same time, it is important to remember that even people who haven’t shared their pain or struggle with us are still in pain and struggling, and so we should always take care with interacting with others. We don’t want to add to their burdens by being harsh or unkind.
We need to find ways to move ahead as a community without creating more of a polarizing “us/them” culture. As passionate advocates, sometimes we end up creating such dichotomy unintentionally. When we hold individual responsibility and communal accountability in better balance, we may become more of an empowered, beloved community, reflecting the justice and peace of God.
Prince Singh (Thursday, March 8)
I think this builds on the previous day’s meditation. I have long said that “there is no them, there is only us.” I may have been saying it for a long time, but I still have to remind myself of it from time to time. There are some people who seem just so very different from me, who hold values that are so contrary to my own, who do things very differently from how I think they should be done. It’s important to remember that they are also children of God and as such should be afford the respect and loving kindness God gives us all.
One week we took the women on a field trip to the Atlantic Ocean. It was an opportunity to get them out of their usual surroundings and experience something new, something different. Before we shared our meal that day, the women offered a song of praise as a thank you to God for that wonderful blessing. The joyful noise that was released from their souls was profound. They sang in Xhosa, so I had no understanding of the words, but words were not needed to translate what is so richly expressed in this psalm.
Lisa C. Flores (Friday, March 9)
Over the years, I have learned that different people express themselves in very different ways. But human emotions are universal. If you pay attention to the emotion rather than the manner in which it is expressed, you will be able to share in the emotional release. There is no right way to praise the glory of God, or to share our joy at the blessings we have received. Some people prefer hymns and poetry. Some people dance and sing. And some sit quietly and offer a silent prayer.
When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, sometimes fear walks by my side. As I walk, I wonder where I will lie down in the green pastures and where amid the rocky shores there are still waters. I know that God is with me, but I need signs that point to a staff that can set me on my path.
I pray that God sets me before the people who will act as God’s right hand. I fear that when I lay me down, I may be in want—and that my soul will not be revived. I take comfort that I am not alone, that the faithful who have lain down before me surround me. There is a communion of compassion among those who suffer. I feel their love; they anoint my head with oil.
For all the saints who have walked through this valley, I give thanks. For all those who walk through the valleys with those who suffer, I give thanks. They remind me that my cup is running over. They give me the courage and hope that will follow me all the days of my life, so that I may dwell in God’s house forever.
Becca Stevens (Saturday, March 10)
I pasted the entire piece for this day, as it is just too beautiful not to share. And, frankly, I don’t have anything to add, except that I hope you gain some measure of comfort from, like I do.
Deep spiritual healing requires us to realize that healing and grace are not things we can buy.
Eric H. F. Law (Sunday, March 11)
I think it’s especially appropriate that this meditation came up on the one year anniversary of the terrible Japanese earthquake and tsunami, where so many people lost all of their worldly possessions, and in many cases, the entire family. This kind of tragedy is a terrible way to be forced to remember that the only things really worth having cannot be bought.
The suffering of the world cries out for the grand gesture, as there is so much that needs healing. But the simple acts have healing power, too: a child saving her allowance to purchase a $12.00 mosquito net can protect a family in Africa from malaria. A parish can donate money for a well to provide water for a village. Each small act is a simple expression of faith that goes out from us—and has the power to heal the world.
Margaret Trezevant (Monday, March 12)
Like I said last week, it is often the smaller gestures that have the greatest impact, as they carry a kind of intimate care that benefit both the receiver and the giver. But that is not to say that grand gestures are not also important. They are. We will not resolve all the world’s problems by individual actions. We need to match our personal actions with our public actions. As individuals we may not think our votes make that much of a different, but they do. Each small vote adds up to a larger whole, just as small gestures add up to a larger effect. And by aligning our actions, we share in the healing we are offering. We cannot afford to not make the individual efforts, just as we cannot afford to rely solely on the efforts of large corporations and government agencies. We owe it to the world. And we owe it to ourselves.
I leave you with a song that has carried me through many dark moments: