Choose Hope

Choose Hope
by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

We are tempted with believing despair is urgent-
Disaster prolific.
We can get lost in overwhelm.
These lenses we wear we did not choose
As they attached themselves to our heart’s eyes
Through a million messages of fear-
A constant barrage in the soul.

We can all see the images
Hear the words
Sense the unrest
Like the whole earth is tipping toward ruin.

BREATHE. That’s first.
Then know:
This is the time for taking off these fear lenses
Which blind us to Spirit movement and human goodness.

We can choose how we will see this world
And how we will respond to what we see.

As followers of the risen One,
What lens are we to wear?

The lens of a resurrection people is hope.

And what is resurrection today?
Is it an event, or many events?
Is it metaphor?
Is it basic biology- a regenerative truth trapped in our DNA-
A holy momentum we couldn’t stop if we tried
That says continuing is the natural way
That all life always, even in it’s dying, is becoming part of some other life?

Choose hope
And see the inherent goodness in the world
And find a grace not your own breathing through you
And ask in wonder- from where does this capacity for forgiveness come?
And what of this strength to keep going that lifts us up in our weariness and will not let us surrender to desolation?

Choose hope
Because it is a flame burning within you regardless just waiting for you to discover and live its heat, its light.
Because it is yearning to be noticed in the daily acts that beg for your attention- the simple kindness you receive throughout the day… and the impulse in you to give simple kindness to others.

Choose hope
Because the Spirit has not stopped stirring, moving, breathing, speaking…
Because nothing is ever really ending even when it feels like it is.

Choose hope
Because it is also the birthplace of courage to speak, to live, to act the God-dream for a better world within us.
Because it is not a flight from realities of despair but strength to enter them, to resist what they are telling us about what can’t be.

Maybe the whole earth is tipping toward shalom.
Maybe what we long for is just beyond the horizon.
Maybe seeds are taking root in us planted by our ancestors.
Maybe there is still much to flourish.

Maybe people are even better than we thought they were-
That for every oppressor there is a liberator
For every violence there are communities dedicated to healing
For every cry of war there is a movement of peace.

Maybe there are actually many more people who want to love and lift up then harm and beat down.

Maybe what seems impossible now will one day be the norm for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Choose hope-
The lens of a resurrection people,
The good news of Jesus Christ for, in, through the world today.

RESURRECTION SIGHT

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: Witness Resurrection!
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

What does it mean today
To proclaim the Lord is risen?
What do we mean when we say
Christ is ALIVE?

I think it must have something to do
With the deepest hope within us
Coming to life
For the sake of others

Resurrection is
Not a one-time occurrence
But a way of life

The Living Christ question is:
What do you see?

Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
A relationship is forming
A warm meal is being shared
A welcome embrace is being offered
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
A hungering child receives nourishment
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
A weapon is laid down
The option of love overpowers the option of harm
Enemies become surprising friends
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Someone once cast aside finds inclusion
Someone who feels alone finds community
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Courage is born that leads to justice
A domination system is challenged
A way of peace emerges against the odds
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Someone once isolated by illness receives care
Someone grieving receives comfort
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
A hardened heart is softening
A broken heart is healing
A person once hopeless finds reason to live
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Someone’s worth is affirmed
Someone is given a cure, a mosquito net, a home
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Someone is doing something radical and courageous for love
A prophetic vision is unfolding
The kingdom of God come near
Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Someone has felt loved for the very first time

Today, in the name of Jesus Christ-
A reconciliation
A reconnecting
A rediscovering
A reinterpreting
A mind changed
A life transformed

Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
Good news to the poor
Oppressed set free
Captives released
Sight restored

The stone has been rolled away from our own eyes
And suddenly we cannot help but see all around us
Resurrection in action
New life happening even now

Today, in the name of Jesus Christ
YOU- you being called
You being loved
You being stirred to life deeper
To live the resurrection story again and again
To believe, still, in what is possible
For this earth and for each of us

May you SEE
May you BE
The Living Christ
In the world
This day.

HOLY IN-BETWEEN

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: “Entering the silence” is based on a practice of the Seneca (First People) Nation. The imagery is adapted from the words of Twylah Nitsch:

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times.
Listen and hear the Silence…Listen and see the Silence.
Listen and taste the Silence…Listen and smell the Silence.
Breathe out one time. Listen and embrace the Silence.
When you are finished, open your eyes.

Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This is the in-between time- when no promise of resurrection can ease the grief and fear rising as swells within the soul. This is the time for feeling, really feeling, the disbelief, the anguish, as you walk away from the tomb where all your hope has been laid. This is the time for keeping vigil, for waiting… for what?

This is the time between death and resurrection where some hallowed space in us is opening a way for something new that we cannot yet see or even imagine.

Joan Chittister suggests that this in-between time is exactly where we are called to be, and that it is also holy.

“The spirituality of religious life today is neither the spirituality of the cross nor the spirituality of the resurrection. The spirituality of our time is the spirituality of Holy Saturday: a spirituality of confusion and consternation, of ineffectiveness and powerlessness, of faith in darkness and the power of hope. It is a spirituality that carries on when carrying on seems most futile.” P.41, The Fire In These Ashes

These may be the moments when we experience most profoundly the counter-cultural nature of discipleship, the ineffective way of love that is transforming our lives with this perplexing downward motion. God-with-us crucified.

I cannot even begin to imagine the heart-wrenching agony of the disciples who had literally left everything to follow the One they just watched die a violent and infuriatingly unjust death. I don’t want to speculate on the details of the mystery that occurred between losing hope and finding it again- but it feels like this holy day has something to say to us now about the power of life in God’s spirit that continues even when we feel like everything is ending.

Sister Chittister challenges us to discover the full meaning of this time: “This isn’t a time for quitting simply because the past is past and the present is unclear. This is not a time for not beginning just because the journey is uncharted. In fact, what an older generation promised a lifetime ago may only now be beginning to come to pass, to make its demands, to reveal its meaning.” P.41, The Fire In These Ashes

What if what we try so hard to avoid and escape actually contains the future we have been longing for? What if in this ending is a new beginning already unfolding within us, around us? What if the point of the past was to prepare us for this time, not to cling to what was and make an idol of it? What if we are invited to be fully present in this in-between space so that our hearts will be ready to live with Christ the resurrection life?

On Holy Saturday, we are confronted with the depth of our commitment to Christ even when what feels good and familiar about the life of faith appears to be gone. “The question, of course, is for what did we hope when we committed ourselves to such a way as this? For certainty? For approval? For clarity? Surely the answer is far deeper than that.” Joan Chittister, P.178, The Fire In These Ashes

It is this deeper answer in each of us that sustains in the dark, uncertain moments of our faith. The Lenten wilderness has been preparing us for this day. We have been slowly releasing our attachments to success, security, and power for the downward love way to wind into our hearts resurrection potential.

This is the time between death and resurrection where some hallowed space in us is opening a way for something new that we cannot yet see or even imagine.

Keep vigil. Be expectant. Mourn if you must. Unlock these fear doors in the heart.

In the darkness of the tomb is mystery, a continuing.

This in-between space is also holy.