Our theme this month couldn’t be more relevant: resilience. Science teaches us that resilience is a material’s ability to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and then release that energy. There is a similarity in humans. So, this month, as a religious question we explore our human ability to absorb energy and release it in a way that reflects our values and who we would like to become.
Playfully, I have described this as the practice of bouncing. Experience teaches us that our lives will be impacted by a variety of personal and communal events. Some of them take our breath away. And yet, life chooses life. Breath continues to come in and out.
Of course, we may be alive, but are we thriving? Have we been flattened by the experience or did we have sufficient elasticity that we absorbed the impact and released it in ways that had us continue to live in accord with our values.
This being Black History month, we have a chance to note systems and structures that were designed to flatten a people and keep them flattened. And yet, in countless ways, we witness collective resilience.
In this church, as we continue to explore whether we can relocate our church into a bigger facility, we have reason to pause and honor JUC’s resilience. As a church, we have never just survived, we have absorbed the energy and allowed ourselves to be shaped in ways that would allow us to respond to a larger call.
I’m also thinking of our Going Deeper groups and the opportunity they afford our members to show up, as they are, where they are, whether flattened or in the midst of the storm or in the thick drudgery that can be our work-a-day existence or in joy. These groups, through the practice of deep listening and authentic sharing, expand our elasticity. They help us hear the still small voice inside and remember that “we are enough.” None of us are the best or worst thing we have ever done; nor are we the best or worst thing that has ever happened to us. Through resilience, we return to our lives as full and loving participants, shaped by experience, but not determined or limited by it.
It’s going to be a great month.