My Audacious 2021 – Blog 2: Love in a Time of Cholera? Try Personal Growth in a Time of Pandemic and Societal Unrest

Letting yourself grow can change the world!

It felt selfish and silly to get my hair cut and colored just days after the invasion of the US Capitol.  Surely there was something more important for me to do. Okay, I was praying, and scrolling through social media to learn more about the events, plus hearing about phenomena like QAnon and “cancel culture” had me feeling like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole.

Did it really matter if the gray stripe in my hair grew wider and wider, and my bangs fell into my eyes, and wouldn’t this be a great time to give up on eating healthier: with society is in an uproar, I have perfect excuse, I mean reason, to give in to the world’s negative energy.

However, stagnating personally would not help the country move forward into a better future. Cocooning, or as I prefer to call it “flannel sheet therapy:, is comforting. I did cocoon as I processed the reality of a gallows constructed on the East Lawn of the Capitol, and the bludgeoning of a police officer. Friends and colleagues slept more, or slept less, binge-watched “brain candy TV” and rejected the idea that there was more than one serving in a pint of ice cream. We all did what was necessary to cope.

But that was not enough.It was not enough to stay in my protective bubble, to cope and hope it would all magically disappear. For society is to grow forward, then it’s my job as a person of faith to grow so that I can be useful to my community and our country, and the people I love, which with God’s help, includes the rioters  and white supremacists. Hating them won’t increase the sum total of love in the world, and not moving on with growing toward my best self will decrease the amount of positive energy in the world. 

So to create more positive energy in the world, I am making my bed every day, and clean my kitchen sink every nights and have set boundaries for my eating. Toward my goal of 10,000 Reasons to Praise the Lord, aka creating a list of 10,000 things for which I’m grateful, I have 691 items listed. Decluttering proceeds a pace, so in general progress is being made.

To grow forward I am intentionally staying connected to God.  I’m particularly grateful to the YouTube services provided by Washington National Cathedral, with morning prayer services and the 5 pm service of interfaith and ecumenical Prayer for Our Nation from now through January 19. I am angry and frightened by what I’ve seen of the violence simmering in our society, and II need help getting to a peaceful center.  

I want my life to matter in a larger sense, so that the little acts of kindness, my donations, any volunteer efforts, and my prayers are multiplied by the Lord into blessings for this hurting world.  As Robert Kennedy put it, “Each time a man[sic] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

I stilI get flashes of rage when I come across misinformation or I see bad behavior celebrated, but by the grace of God I get out of bed, expend some energy to make the world better and have not eaten more than one pint of ice cream on any given day. And my hair looks good. By God’s grace, I m growing. And with God’s help, and by the efforts of those committed to work for liberty and justice for all, our country and indeed the whole world will grow.

It was during the Morning  Service of Reflection and Prayer on January 11, 2021 – you can still find the video on YouTube, that I was introduced to the following quote from Howard Thurman, which serves as today’s Prayer Poem. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was inspirational to me:

Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men [sic]have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge! 

— Civil Rights theologian Howard Thurman, from his sermon “The Growing Edge”

During this challenging time, recognize within it the possibility of newness of life, of a new world being born, of upward reach of life, and listen for the incentive to carry on because the times are indeed out of joint.

Grace, peace, and shalom to you!

Caroline

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