It’s All Good

As we close out one week and head into a new one, these are the things I am hearing: we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed, we’re sick of trying to do the right thing when no one else seems to be doing the right thing, and we don’t really know where to go next or what to do.  

Anything to add to the list?  Filled with sadness, perhaps?  

It’s times like these that it is really nice to come back to our simple and most comforting prayers.  The ones we can most easily remember and carry with us.  I hope you will indulge me, as I return with this prayer for July: All will be well.  All will be well.  All will be well.  

It may not feel like it right now.  We may feel anxious, fearful, angry, hopeless, frustrated, quarrelsome…anything to add to the list?  

So, we anchor July in faith: All will be well.  All will be well.  All will be well.  Coming back to Julian of Norwich who is celebrated this month.  

It may be easy to resist this simple prayer.  The first thoughts to your mind might have been: it’s not well and nothing is well.  

It may be easy to lash back and think…things were different “back then” and this is far worse.  This is the worst it’s ever been.  

Let’s recap Julian for a moment.  During Julian’s time a few things were happening (and I’m going to keep it simple):

The waves of the Black Plague were devastating the country and her city.  There was the peasant’s revolt due to socio-economic issues of the time (many of those were a result of the Plagues).  The stirrings of pre-protestantism were being suppressed, likely not very gently.  In addition, Julian worried over the health and wellness of herself (including a near death illness) and those around her.  Those bigger problems sound familiar.  Those personal problems may also sound familiar.  

When life is “like that”, we can probably imagine the usual response of the average person at that time and in that place.  We see it all around us.  How people respond when they are scared and angry, and feel hopeless.  And yet, Julian held to: All will be well.  And all manner of things will be well.  

Most of our deepest, most beautiful words don’t come out of a simple, easy life.  They come out of struggles, and trials, and pain, and loss.  Those words come from teachers who kept on practicing goodness during trying times.  I certainly hope they too had days when they just wanted to hide in a corner and give in to the ugliness.  That brings me comfort that it’s not perfection but continuing to practice when it’s hardest and we’re most tired.  And maybe sometimes taking a much needed retreat from the world in our face.  

Jesus continued to share a message of Love when people didn’t believe in a loving God (or loving gods, at the time) or in any idea of caring and loving rulers who worried about the the little people.  And yet, he continued to spread a message of love and peace in un-loving times and un-peaceful times.  That also might sound familiar.  It’s why Jesus continues to be relevant.  

I LOVE that Jesus says in the above passage, spread peace and if it’s not received, it comes back to you.  The message that no good deed goes unrewarded.  

Again, you might be thinking the reverse: no good deed goes unpunished.   

Peace be with you.  It is either received and those ripples of peace continue from that person to the next and the next, or it comes back to you.  What does that mean?  Let’s imagine for a moment, those times we have  tried to spread peace or goodness and it goes unreceived…

Did we truly give that peace as a gift?  In which case, how it is received should not matter to us. If it is not received, it simply comes back to us. Maybe to give to another, maybe to encourage us to continue to give peace where it will be received and ripple.  Maybe to continue to give peace where it’s given back.  

Sometimes, we give not to give, but as an exchange, as an expectation that we will share peace with another and they will accept it.  But that’s not always true.  If it is a gift, we don’t get angry or upset when the gift goes unreceived or unappreciated.  We simply continue to give because either most of the time it makes a difference or there is so much need for peace and love that we have to try harder to get it to more people so that it can really, really spread.  

If we get hurt and angry when our gifts of peace are not received, if we give up, if we quit, we didn’t truly pass peace or love.  We were engaged in an exchange.  An expectation of return.  

Perhaps, that is what Jesus means when he says: if a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on them, but if not, it will return to you.  That it’s not about them…it’s about us.  Our response, our growth, our learning.  

And all will be well. Eventually, the gift of peace and love will be received.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the gift of peace and love created a little crack we’re unable to see and next time, or the next time, or the next time the peace and love and goodness will get through.  But only if we meet that resistance with kindness and not frustration, more hurt, and more anger (and if we must be irritated and angry {because we’re tired}…save it for a safe place later, with someone who loves us, so we don’t close that crack we just began to open).  

All will be well.  We trust in a loving and forgiving God.  We trust in a God that yearns for peace in our hearts and peace between people.  We trust in each other (maybe we sometimes need a little more work on that), but we believe in each other.  We trust in the path of Jesus or the path of Love and Goodness.  

All will be well.  It is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  Work might still be hard and stressful, but we can still practice love and peace and goodness.  Neighbors might still be frustrating, but we can still practice love and peace and goodness.  We might still be worried about our family and our health and our security, but we can still practice peace and love and goodness.  We might still be worried about the state of the nation and the world, but we can still practice grace.  

As we honor our nation with the Fourth of July this week, may we remember that freedom means choice.  We can choose to meet the seeming ugliness of the world with more ugliness (even well meaning ugliness) or we can choose to practice meeting the world with love and goodness.  And when we fall short, we can pick ourselves up and practice yet again.  Because if we are to follow a path of love and grace, the path of Jesus, we need to practice being the hands and words and thoughts of love and Grace in this world.  

All will be well.  As a final note, the common thread this past week is that we are tired.  A gift of peace and love and goodness might start with yourself.  As we head into a vacation week, be gentle with yourself.  Perhaps take pause (and turn off the things that bring you stress and worry, they will be there when you get back) to rest your weary body, mind, and soul.  

Rest in the words of Julian: All will be well. And all manner of things will be well

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