Tomorrow we come to the anniversary in Memory of those who have died in war. This past week, we had another horrific school shooting.
What do we do? We take pause. Perhaps we can call it a Sacred Pause. We take time to grieve and time to sort through the chaos when life gets ugly. It might feel like we need, must, do something, anything, but a Sacred Pause. We do better to first grieve and reflect on the sorrows. PAUSE.
This is where that Reciprocity of last week comes in handy. It’s time to take pause and take comfort. Come to church. Plant a plant. Read a book (not a dark one). Watch a movie (not a violent one). To have a cup of tea and spend some time in Good, Quiet Company. It’s easy to see what’s horrible in the world and people right now, but a Sacred Pause reminds us of Good People. Our job is to be Good People and we are better people when we pause, reflect, and sort. Coming from a place within us of Peace . And sure, it can have a tinge of anger and grief, but there has to be a root of peace and hope or we just become a part of the messy ugliness despite our good intentions. PAUSE.
There are stages and steps and if we are jumping in to point fingers and cast blame, perhaps we are just using our anger and fury to feel powerful. We’re stirring and heating up an already boiling pot. Part of the path of Jesus is to be a beacon of peace in the ugliness and the messiness. Forgiveness even from the cross.
We’re not ready to do that. There are stages and processes. It it time to step back and grieve and honor those whose lives have been lost. PAUSE. The farther removed we are from the center of the storm, the more important is is for us to be beacons of peace. Peace helps us to see clearly and calm goes much more effectively farther than rage and hate. And we believe that Love is the answer.
We need a Sacred Pause and Comfort to remember that. To bring that back into our hearts before we try to make change. Love.
It doesn’t mean that we sit back and pause forever. Reciprocity, remember? We have work to do, perhaps we’re realizing we have more work to do and a bigger part to play, but we already know what needs to be done and are working towards it. It’s slow and painful, but we are doing to the work and we continue to do the work.
It is the gift and frustration of being single, small human beings. PAUSE. We can’t change it ourselves. We need to work together and that requires love, not hate. Patience, over rage. Practice in every moment and every corner of our lives. And a Sunday morning Sacred Pause each week to remind ourselves of how important our small, single lives are and the work we have to do from our small, single human life.
I would say that our biggest gift and biggest challenge as Americans is the same thing. And it’s sticky and it’s hard. It’s diversity. Diversity of people. Diversity of thought. It’s easier in a place with common root nationality and culture. We’re a nation made up of cast offs of other nations coming together into a place already populated with a people. And we’re working on coming together as One. It’s messy, but it’s also…new. The “melting pot” really is new. It’s our gift and our challenge.
Of course, there are pockets of hate. But mostly…we’re all good people. Mostly, we are a nation full of good people who are afraid. People who don’t know where to go or how to go. Or how to work together. And often, we’re afraid to work together…someone might get the wrong impression of us if we’re hanging with the “wrong tribe”.
And we have a lotta lost souls. A lotta lost souls getting more lost.
We stir the pot of fear in every moment and in every conversation. It starts with the news and continues at the water station at the office. We are fed a constant trickle, or a hose at full blast, of fear in more moments than not in our lives.
What is that fear feeding in us? How is that fear helping us be present in the world? When we are fearful, we turn to anger and blame to feel powerful. Especially when we feel helpless and hopeless. And lost.
What we do…matters.
Take a Sacred Pause.
We are not more informed knowing every detail of the story the news is feeding us without taking the time to process the information. We get a bunch of sound bites, but forget to process and put the puzzle together. We need to feel like we know it all instead of understanding it. The “whole story” is a) never the whole story and often b) less about us discovering action steps and more about rubbernecking. Know when you can’t process anymore. Know when it’s enough.
If your own life has its own grief or pain, seek comfort in Quiet. Step into the garden, come to church (or your sacred place) and rest. This might be your work, to get back to stability in your own life so you can be of comfort, instead of trying to step in before you are ready.
Clear out the emotions to come back to hope and peace. Work without hope is not really work…
We must believe there is more Good in the world than not. A world God believes in. We must believe that each of us is unique and special (in God’s image) and we each of us has our work to do. And so, we pray for our own sorrows and concerns, we pray for those we empathize with, and “we pray also” for those it is hardest to pray for. Because that is Love and if we don’t, we do not practice God’s Love. If we don’t, we have lost trust that we are all unique and special and we create more lost souls.
What we do matters.
Our greatest work is in each day. To clear the way into Gentleness, Kindness, and Sweetness. The Love. In our daily lives, when in doubt (and when it’s hardest), smile and don’t be afraid to laugh.
Don’t meet the daily anger and aggressions and tendency toward “it’s all awful” and “people are awful” (those people are us) with the same. Even the “don’t matter” people (the guy in the other car, the nameless construction sign worker, the faceless voice at the drive thru). Don’t stoop even when no one’s looking.
Practice love and be kind. Especially when “someone else started it”. Be the ripple of Goodness by not adding to the ripples that make us believe “its all awful” and “people are awful”. Those people are us. We’re the other driver who “doesn’t know how to drive”. We’re the nameless face in the crowed and the faceless voice on the other end of the line.
A little more kindness to the people we see every day.
A little more kindness to ourselves.
Take a Sacred Pause (hint: a sacred pause does not include the news or social media; trust me, I know this well). Use this time to integrate what you already know. To quiet the storm of emotions. To plan wisely how to be present in the world. And pray.
Pray when it’s easy. Pray until the tears come. Pray to be God’s Heart in the world. Then practice the work and Be God’s Heart in the World.
INVITATION TO DO GOOD: I invite you to do one small thing from your heart this week that leads in the direction of the kind of world you would like to see…