“Courage and optimism are your best traits,” reads a fortune from a Chinese restaurant years ago. I’ve kept it so long because it speaks to my best self. Even so, on my dark days, I despair. I know you don’t need me to list everything that sends me to the depths because I think you feel them as well as I do. They’re like tall ghouls laughing at our puny hopes and futile attempts to bring order to the chaos in the world.
Be still. Stop. Breathe. Look out the window. Remember whose world this is, and how you came to be in it. We have been in a near constant state of war for years now, so imagining a different approach to global problems seems impossible. But that’s what God calls us to do: imagine a different way for events to unfold, for people to engage with others. What is the faith that makes this possible? Waiting and walking with God. When we wait upon God, God draws near to us.
Clarissa P. Estes emboldened many with her 2004 essay. She said, “We were made for these times….do not lose hope….Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul…will help immensely.”
While the talk of walls and hate preys on our fears, I watch a robin’s nest outside my window with three hardy babies straining to fly. The strongest one is jumping and trying to flex his wings while his siblings still sit with their mouths wide open for the parent’s next visit. Yesterday a murder of crows was flying about, gathering strength and calling for others to join forces. I went out with a broom to ward off any attack that might come to this nest tucked on the joist beneath our deck. Only one or two robbers flew over the house, but I was at the ready to wave them off.
This is a time for the courage to imagine different ways to engage with the world far beyond us, or right in our back yard, with our friends and allies. This is soul work. Soul work requires that we rely on God’s promises. If we wait upon the Lord, we will renew our strength, even fly like eagles. [Isaiah 40:31] How can we resist? It may be our only way to refrain from spreading the gloom.