Jul 18 2018

August Journal: “But What Can We Do?”

Published by at 3:29 pm under Minister's Musings

“But What Can We Do?”

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

“But what can we do?” some of you cry, in the face of fear, anger, and exhaustion resulting from the onslaught of discouraging news on the national front. Shouldn’t we be doing something with more lasting impact than simply showing up for rallies and marches, as important as the numbers at those protests may be?

          There is not just one answer about what we are called to do to create a morally just society. Yet I also believe that we are all called to two practical efforts right now and for the months to come:

1.     Engage in Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) activities with our partners throughout the county and the country.

2.     Build our personal and communal strength and resilience through participating in the practices that bring us back, again and again, to our best selves and to something larger than ourselves. That’s my definition of spiritual: connecting with our best selves and with something larger than ourselves, both of which guide and lure us toward the good, toward Making Love Visible in all we do and say.

Stay tuned in the next weeks and months for more specifics on how and where we can be involved in #1. And be sure to share with us what your networks suggest for Get-Out-the-Vote actions.

For #2: just as physical exercise builds the body’s strength, so too spiritual practices build our emotional, psychological, and moral muscles and agility, our soulful strength and resilience. These are not “soft” or self-involved responses to the hardships of this day, but rather real skill-building techniques that will sharpen our senses and deepen our compassion and connections to one another.

Here are three suggestions for this month of August:

Spiritual Practice #1: Wherever you are right now, take a moment to move out (in body or in spirit) into the air, to take a breath, and to reconnect with your body, no matter what shape it’s in. Just take a moment to drop your senses into this wondrous, complicated vessel—your very own body—which carries you through the world.

And while you do, try to hear this message: We are so glad you are HERE, present, presente, alive in this time and place. Breathe and repeat: We are so glad we are here together.

Spiritual Practice #2: Take a break this month from just one habit in your life in order to open up time for fresh perceptions. Take away something, even just for a few days, that has been absorbing your time and energy, and then notice what enters in to fill that time and heart-space.

          Maybe you will take a break from social media or the news, from sugar or alcohol, from habitual worry or distracted driving. No matter what your circumstances, I bet there is something you can relinquish in order to create some spaciousness for your soul.

          When I took such a break in July, music flooded in. I came across an old but half-forgotten James Taylor song: “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel …” I was struck by our need for this deeply empathic, compassionate message to counter all the hate and fear, all the renewed bigotry and injustice around us. “Shower the people you love with love” … I thought of some of my closest friends. I thought of you. I began to say and show my love more often.

          I also came across Sarah Bareilles’s more recent song “Brave”: “Honestly I wanna see you be brave with what you want to say!” Brave and loving—full-on expressive of these powerful, grace-filled parts of ourselves. Willing to be vulnerable and authentic, thoughtful and considerate in order to create “brave space” among us.

And that leads to Spiritual Practice #3: Please do show up in our community as often as you can—for worship and/or Circle Suppers, for Musical Mystery Theater rehearsals and/or Contra Dances, and/or for some other activity listed in our online calendar or mentioned on Sundays. Let us show up to build our spiritual strength, to connect with our best selves and with something larger than ourselves. When we do, we build our muscles for resilience and resistance, for courage and hope.

We are in this struggle for the long haul, dear ones. Strength, resilience, courage, and Love—we can build these together!And Get Out the Vote!

With my love,

Rev. Nancy


P.S. Spiritual Practice #4: Please pause for a moment to enjoy these videos of the two songs mentioned above:

  • James Taylor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfJWqjoekow
  • Sarah Bareilles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4


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