Pushing back.

I write this on Epiphany, a day filled with images of stars. Some congregations have taken to the tradition of handing out “star-words”. The intent of these words isn’t some weird version of a Presbyterian fortune-cookie, but rather an offering of a word for reflection in the year to come. It’s a spiritual discipline– look for this word as it manifests in your life as the new year unfolds.

I pulled a star-word last year (Steward) and I’ll confess, I did see it rise up in my work with y’all this last year. It is not, however, the word that I would use to describe my year.

That word is…. Ridiculous.

As the world spun more and more into the horrible chaos of multiple pandemics, I found myself responding not with grief, not with beauty, but with creating things that were whimsical and ridiculous. I knit chickens and wreaths bedecked with toadstools, hedgehogs and owls. I cross-stitched curse words on fine linen. I even created a felted 3-dimensional representation of a mouse autopsy. It was as if I used my creative energies to push back at the absurdity of what was happening with creativity that provoked laughter.

It strikes me that this is also the work of the church. In a world on the brink of chaos, we offer the Logos/Order that is the Word. During a pandemic where social isolation becomes the norm we have found new ways to reach out to each other. We counter the evil and the injustices of this world with what is true and noble, right and pure, lovely and admirable. We hold before the world a mirror that shows not just humanity’s depravity but also how the transformative love of God redeems that reality. We push back against that which is evil, and when we find ourselves faltering, we hold one another close until we can.

Pastor Elizabeth Lyman serves as the Transitional Pastor at Pebble Hill. In her recent letter to her congregation, she quoted Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s prayer for 2020. This is the snippet that grabbed at my heart: 

Hold on. Hang on, by the skin of your teeth if you have to. 

Make art — or whatever you make — if you can make it. But if all you can manage is to get out of bed in the morning, then do that and be proud of what you’ve managed, not frustrated by what you haven’t.

Remember, you aren’t alone, no matter how much it feels like it sometimes. And never forget that, sometimes, it’s only when it gets really dark that we can see the stars.

Holding on with you…. 

Karen

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