September 25, 2020

The news in the past few days has been very disturbing. One of my personal heroines, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died after an epic battle with pancreatic cancer. She was a tiny, spunky, brilliant, witty inspiration.  A Grand Jury sentence that seemed to miss the mark about the shooting of a woman of color in her own home became one more flash point for protests. The shooting of two police officers in response to the sentence was equally disturbing.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The most recent predictions about COVID19 deaths by the CDC estimates that by October 17 (24 days from now) we will have reached the horrific milestone of 214,000 – 226,000 deaths in the U.S. And then there is the threat that the historically peaceful transfer of power in our nation, one of the true gifts of our political life, is being threatened.

It is not surprising that I fell asleep last night feeling anxious and unsettled. The first few lines of a poem by Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things, kept repeating in my mind. It goes like this: 

“When despair for this world grows in me,

and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life or my children’s lives may be…”

Berry’s cure for that kind of aching soul is to seek solace in the natural world, but in the middle of the night in a community that shares space with nocturnal bears isn’t the wisest option. I found some solace, instead, this afternoon. I Zoomed into Sacred Season a bi-weekly gathering of women from our congregation to reflect on God’s presence in our lives. 

As it just so happens, our conversation, which on the surface was about (of all things) childhood memories of cap guns, elicited amazing memories, including deep visceral memories of the scent of those caps hanging just beyond on the tips of our noses. 

I wondered aloud about the shining moments we’ve been aware of in recent days. And to a person, we could retell those moments as well, each included a sense of unexpected joy in the midst of this challenging time. The narratives of each shining moment somehow become a part of our corporate memory, that we can to hang onto in the days and weeks ahead. 

Somehow, in an hour set aside to reflect on God’s presence in our lives, God’s Spirit was alive and active, drawing us into, and reminding us of, a reality that is greater than each of us by ourselves. That is the body of Christ, the community of faith.

The final sentence of Berry’s poem aptly describes the transcendent gift of sharing our stories, entwined with God’s story, in community.  I paraphrase it below

For a time
We rest in the grace of the world, and of God, and are free.

With thanks for each moment of grace in these times ~ Anne

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