By the Rev. Barbara Threet
I write this on the day of Solstice, the day of the physical turning of the year. It’s only 10 days until the turning of the calendar year. Endings and beginnings, both of them. I often use UU meditation manuals as a morning focus, and here’s the one I read today: ‘Morning Watch’ written by Rev. Barbara Pescan.
we waited in the dark.
The planet turned
and we upon it
stupid with sleep
hoping something would happen.
While we leaned toward the east
the weight of the night sank beneath us.
Toward the north a comet passed so close
we could see it through the sleep in our eyes,
and dawn flung itself up
swirling with clouds and color and birdsong
Look – this is our world for another day.
Reach out to it: it is your own life.
Know, too, that his day is dear
even to strangers you will never know.
Stretch out your arms to embrace it.
Do not go back to sleep.
I want to embrace her sentiment: the world is amazing, and I want very much to notice it and embrace it. But what also runs through my mind are the words of Wordsworth,
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!…
The news of this day is heavy indeed: actions taken over and over with (at least from my perspective) little to no care about the consequences, with complete disregard for those with actual knowledge and experience, and an utter lack of respect or concern for wide swathes of humanity. It feels like I‘m being forced to live inside a reality TV show, and I’ve assiduously avoided them for decades because I find that approach to life as intentionally-created drama so objectionable. Much of public life now does seem like a ‘sordid boon’ indeed, in my estimation. The world – as in the news of the decisions that I believe adversely affect those I love, all of our planet, and even our planet’s future – seems too present, too much ‘with us’, and I long for a day – a week even – of rest and sanity, when the news seems hopeful or at least honest and thoughtful. I long to feel that decisions that affect us all are made with consideration and respect, using facts and science and experience rather than rage and hatred and absurdity.
And yet, the worst reaction, I know, is to try to go back to sleep, or disengage, or try to hide from this absurdity. Somehow I must remain involved and informed, I must take what small actions I can, and I must find the will to remember the signs of resistance and sanity and hope.
I had meant to write a column of hope for the new year, and as an optimist, I still hold on to hope most of the time. But sometimes, even my optimistic soul feels challenged and strained. I suppose that’s one of the reasons we have religious community, and families, and groups like our current “Building Your Own Theology” class, and even news sources that point out the signs of change and resistance and progress. May they predominate, somehow – and may I, and we all, be part of bringing that about, in this coming new year and beyond.
Shalom and Salaam,