Texas Methodist Foundation recently launched a podcast called “Reservoirs of Resilience.” If you aren’t already familiar with this podcast and listening, I commend it to you. Leaders interviewed include:
Tod Bolsinger of Fuller Seminary who says, “The giant challenge isn’t the external challenges, as strong as they are, it is the internal resistance” and
Dr. Colette Pierce-Burnette of Huston-Tillotson who says, “The moral arch does bend towards justice, slowly. We have more shoulders leaning on that arch…because more people have been made aware of the deep challenges that we have as a nation”.
Bishop Robert Schnase was also interviewed recently about oscillating narratives. He talks about how most of us prefer ascending narratives; in other words, stories that tell how things and even we ourselves are getting better and better. As well, many of us can at the same time dwell on negative narratives – meaning, stories about how circumstances are getting worse and worse. Bishop Schnase goes on to discuss how there is nothing inherently wrong with an ascending narrative or a descending narrative, it’s just not the entire story. Oscillating narratives that move back and forth from ascending to descending and back to ascending are more honest and more authentic. Oscillating narratives tell the whole truth.
It doesn’t take long for us to admit to the truth of the ups and downs of life. Over the last year I have missed seeing family and friends as well as events I enjoy like going to the theater. I grieve that. But within the last month I received my vaccine. I celebrate that! My husband and I recently won a bid on a house. I am glad I have a home. And, I am heart-broken that far too many live a different reality. This week I received texts from organizers who want to criminalize being homeless and push our siblings and friends on the street back into the shadows. As overwhelming as the realities of and possible responses to homelessness are, the Gospel mandate to lay down our lives for one another is clear. An Epistle lesson coming up soon in the lectionary reminds us, “This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for others. But if someone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but refuses to help – how can the love of God dwell in a person like that?” (I John 3:16-17)
We live with ups and downs. Sometimes the joys are small and sometimes they are grand. At times the sorrows are seemingly trivial and at times they threaten to do us in. Bishop Schnase has kept a practice over the last year of recording losses in a journal. He has also kept the practice of recording moments of delight in a journal. He came up with this idea after hearing author Ross Gay interviewed. Gay is the author of The Book of Delights: Essays. We who are fully alive in this world can testify to the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs, the delights and losses that make up our weeks and years and – indeed – a lifetime of living. That’s the truth. And through it all, a resurrection faith reminds us that “Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things”(I John 3:20).
I came up with a handful of rules: write a delight every day for a year; begin and end on my birthday, August 1; draft them quickly; and write them by hand. The rules made it a discipline for me. A practice. Spend time thinking and writing about delight every day.
― Ross Gay, The Book of Delights: Essays
Find Texas Methodist Foundation’s podcast including the interview with Bishop Schnase here.
Every religious tradition is rooted in mysteries I don’t pretend to understand, including claims about what happens after we die. But this I know for sure: as long as we’re alive, choosing resurrection is always worth the risk.
— Parker Palmer