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LENTEN REFLECTION: Beyond Hopelessness

My outlook darkens all too often as I confront each day's news. The mess in the Middle East. Gun violence. The uphill struggle in Ukraine. Threats of not only nuclear conflict, but also of nation-crippling cyberattacks. The children of dear friends dying of fentanyl.

The dysfunction in our United States government has encouraged our most loyal allies to begin to regard us as a fading superpower imploding into our own paralysis. And yes, I grieve the possibility that this is the world I am leaving to my eleven-year-old granddaughter.

I want to lay my heaviness of heart at the foot of God’s wisdom to give human beings freedom, and choice. In the biblical story, it seems that Satan and his entourage opposed God’s plan of freedom and choice. Satan preferred a more hierarchical, militaristic, and tidy system for creation and its creatures. Satan lost and was cast out of heaven.

So I believe the mess we find ourselves in is the result of our choices. How often do we treat those who differ from us as unworthy, even as enemies? How often do we refuse to see the humanity in someone who thinks differently than we do, whose values seem different?

When digital and satellite technology pipe the world’s messes in real time into my daily life, I find it overwhelming. And I am tempted to slide into feelings of dread and helplessness. That’s when I need to hear again Alice Walker’s admonition, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.”

You see, God has given us the power to choose. God has given us guidance on what are good choices. I hold myself accountable to the guidance given to the prophet Micah.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to 

do justice, and to 

love kindness, and to 

walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6

Three decades ago, Sam Keen penned a book Faces of the Enemy (which deserves a new printing).

Our best hope for remaining human, and remaining alive for the generations will require us to convert our disposition toward hostility to a disposition toward kindness, and to devote the full energy of our imagination and will to finding a way to live in relative harmony with our neighbors.

So, it is our choice to either rebel or to follow God into the way of justice, kindness, and humility.

As we begin our Lenten journey toward Easter, I invite you to join me in two choices:

  1. I am going to choose to do my best to tame my inner hostility. Especially I commit to remaining calm and nonjudgmental when I observe others doing things I cannot control or understand. No more “You IDIOT!” — spoken or even just thought.

  2. I commit to accomplishing at least one act of kindness every day. It may be a text, a phone call, shared homemade soup (yes, I cook), a helping hand, or a handwritten note. 

Individually, such choices might not seem significant; collectively they change our lives, our communities, our world.

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”          

— African proverb 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”           

— Margaret Mead


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