These days I worry about my children in a way I didn’t worry about them when they were younger and I could shelter and care for them. What will the world be like for them? Will they find jobs? Will they be burdened with debt? Will the world become less and less safe? Will we have an earth fit to live on for much longer?
(For the full audio version, click here.)
Our world feels like it is going hell in the proverbial handbasket. Seriously, I would welcome a reputable prophet right about now proclaiming that one was coming who would make the world a safe, peaceful place to live. Not to mention someone who, as Jeremiah said, will bring justice and integrity to the land (Jer. 33:15)!
The increasing darkness (how do people in Alaska do it?) seems to simply add to this feeling that everything is spinning out of control, and that we are sinking deeper and deeper into despair and darkness. For many folks, the physical darkness and the holidays often bring depression for people. We are drawn into our own shadows and confronted once again with our brokenness, our broken families, our loneliness and our loss.
We need hope. The country needs hope. Our world needs hope.
Hope… I can’t quite explain where it comes from, it seems it must simply be a gift of God’s grace. It also seems to me that if we didn’t have hope we’d all be taking our own lives.
Day after day we continue hoping that (despite reality) things will get better, hoping that love will win, hoping that people will learn to understand one another, hoping that we will be healed, hoping that our children will be healthy, that our puppy won’t pee in the house (yes, I’m living this right now) and we’ll still have a job next week.
It is interesting to me that over 2000 years since Jesus was born, we still anticipate the celebration of his birth with such hope. Why? What did Jesus bring? In a nutshell, I think he reminded us of what was important, and it wasn’t laws and rules. It was people and compassion, it was love and joy. He transformed lives by restoring relationship and bringing people back to themselves and God. He believed in justice that included equality for all people and he lived in integrity to himself, to God and to his message.
Yes, Jesus was awesome, but here’s what I think we all missed… from the beginning, people have wanted Jesus to fix things by himself. Certainly, people have reasoned, the Messiah is anointed by God and, therefore, great enough to fix this world. Think about it, we’re always asking for God’s intervention in our lives… do this, do that, fix this, change that, heal me, change them, let me win the lottery.
He showed us how to live with peace in our hearts by connecting to the God of compassion and love. He showed us this so that we might help transform the world, so that we might be light and hope to the world. It’s just like a kid with homework… we can’t do it for them, we just have to help and guide. Our homework is deal with our shadows, and all that covers up our authentic light-filled selves, so we can BE light, BE peace, BE hope.
I know we don’t want to hear this. We don’t want the burden. We want some miracle to come and change things, fix things… fix us. We want a genie or a magic wand. But it just doesn’t work like that.
The spiritual path is not only to wait in hope, to live in hope, but to BE hope.
For today, the waiting is important… it is time to sink into the darkness, to check in with ourselves, to incubate and spend time in self-reflection. It is time to look at our lives, where we need to be healed, where the Divine is nudging us to open up, or to let go. And we start there.
Then we look outward, not judging, because we know we have our own burdens and brokenness. We look outward with compassion and with forgiveness, trying to bring joy, hope and a better day.