Howard Thurman, a famous theologian and mystic, talked about how important it was to think about the legacy we will leave for future generations. Which for me, in times like this is hard. I’m often caught up in surviving day to day. This seems enough. Nonetheless, for the past few days I have been meditating on what I will learn, change, keep, over the course of this challenging time. This musing is a part of legacy, it is a part of growing into a new understanding of life. We all have had to do this before even if it was to this scale of change and growth.
Releasing the separate one is a difficult knot. Finding yourself is something only you can do. Imagine yourself coming back ten years from today Through time, to help you where you must now be.
We can find ourselves every day. We can help ourselves and each other as we move through time.
We have the imagination to envision our legacy. It is in the everyday steps that we are already taking. We have help and support, we have our own tribe to encourage us and keep us focused.
But focused on what? Finding what?
I hope what you find is what Howard Thurman found. Common Ground. A Loving and Compassionate universe. This is what I look for every day. It is not hard to find, or hard to start. It can be paying for coffee for the person behind you in a line. It can be a knowing smile instead of a quick rebuke. Our Beloved Community is ours to make, it is our legacy. This can be what we leave for everyone’s future.
We all have a complicated relationship with work, don’t we? Or should I say that I do for sure but let me tell you I was practically dancing my way into the building this morning. I realize how this place …HHH and all of the people here have become home and family for me and a place of good work. I am again so grateful for work that is meaningful and feeds me so well in meaning and connection and warmth. So I am grateful to have a place to call my place of work and a place that makes us come in and work in a particular place.
I am so conscious of how many people don’t have good work for themselves to support their families. So many have lost their work during this time. So it is with great privilege that I can come to work and feel supported in the work of caring.
My invitation today is enter into gratitude today for work… for the power of having a place to focus our energies towards the greater good. It is critical to good society. Let’s not forget those who don’t have a place to focus their gifts and talents. And those who don’t have the capacity to work as we do.
This past Monday I came home to find three jack-o’-lanterns on the steps to our home. When I asked about them, my four year old told me that there was a Daddy, a Mommy, and Baby and that the baby was going, “waaah.” He was eager to light the candles in them and we told him we could do that when the sun goes down but we’d have to blow the candles out when we go back inside. And so we did – just as it got dark.
On the second evening when he asked to light the jack-o’-lanterns again, we stood out there after the candles were lit and I felt that we needed to sing a song. So we sang, “This Little Light of Mine.” And it was a special moment. And last night we did it again and it got me thinking about how the darkness is coming earlier these days and we need to remember the important message of that song, of rituals like singing with candles, facing the darkness of night.
No matter how dark it gets outside, there is a light within each one of us that nothing can extinguish. And it got me thinking about the work of care that we are about here in this community, caring for one another in the midst of this pandemic. Each of us is holding a light, bearing a light for one another, for the residents in our midst. And so this morning I offer this blessing for you who bear the light from Jan Richardson.
Blessed are you who bear the light by Jan Richardson
Blessed are you who bear the light in unbearable times, who testify to its endurance amid the unendurable, who bear witness to its persistence when everything seems in shadow and grief.
Blessed are you in whom the light lives, in whom the brightness blazes— your heart a chapel, an altar where in the deepest night can be seen the fire that shines forth in you in unaccountable faith, in stubborn hope, in love that illumines every broken thing it finds.
This is my current Love garden (Oct 4, 2020). I went on Facebook last night and found a picture of the garden on one of my friends Facebook pages. I make a garden that spells out love each season and I couldn’t wait to redo the summer version that was a bit sparse from the drought that we have been living through. For this one, I wanted something bright, something full and robust. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the flowers to blossom (as I am not the most patient person). Finally over the weekend the V began to turn red. Yahoo… Love is alive and well in North Sutton.
I created this garden as a response to the climate of the 2016 election for my little slice of North Road. It has been a labor of love for me through these past years. I think maybe 12 to 15 different versions of this garden has unfolded through these years. It was meant to ground me and my community in something larger than the divisions that we feel sometimes with all the political signs yelling at us. I am part of you and you are part of me. I am one petal and you are another but we, collectively, make a great garden together.
So today: May you know love in your life. May you be held by something larger than any suffering can feel. May you know of a love that heals even in the face of great pain.
One of the metaphors that has been helpful for me to hold onto that I picked up early in my time here was the “Eye of the Hurricane”. When life or a situation or a family dynamic feels like it is swirling around us and out of control, the calm in the eye of the hurricane is a place where peace can be found in the chaos. And not that I can’t get pulled out into the chaos sometimes but to offer a difficult situation or a family or a group of staff a bit of calm amidst all the swirling is something I strive to be. And when I am in a swirling bit of chaos myself… when feelings are swirling around or anxiety or fear are swirling around inside me I gravitate to the people who can be the “eye of the hurricane”, a calming steady presence, for me. I hope the metaphor of the Eye of the Hurricane, calm at the center of the storm, will be an aspirational one for you too. The calm amidst the chaos. Each of us can be that for one another.
A poem for inspiration:
Eye of the Hurricane
Strong. Over every word in every book, The one I am proud to say defines me, Is strong. My life has been a storm, An everlasting hurricane of destruction, And dark gray clouds. The winds constantly throwing things from one place to another, The rain beating down like bullets, Breaking things, Crushing them. The flood is the worst part though. It fills every crack, Every inch, Every space it can trying to take away all the air But, I am strong. I will admit that for awhile the winds tore to me different places, The rain crushed me, And the floods, Well lets just say I was drowning for awhile. That flood water is dark and cold, There is no air. The suffocation of the flood water was the worst feeling of all But, I am strong. Eventually I swam, I fought against the waves and took a breath. I didn’t let the rain crush me, Or the winds take me in any direction they blew. I took control. I became the calm in the storm. I became the eye of the hurricane. I rose because I am strong. I didn’t let the current pull me under. I’ve been through many hurricanes, And I’ll go through more, But I am strong, I will continue to be the calm in the storm, I will continue to be the eye of the hurricane.
May you be the calm that you seek and that the world seeks in these times.