Dear Siblings in Christ:
These words have become part of my daily readings these days:
“The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.”
- Solnit, Rebecca. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. Penguin Books, 2010
The title really tells you most of what this book is about. I read it several years ago and the idea quoted above is one that’s helped me remain hopeful at this moment. I know we’re probably not quite feeling that paradise vibe at this moment – we’re still in the middle of this slow-moving tsunami – but these words remind me that there will be another side to this. It’s coming.
Take a deep breath here. Its going to take a bit to get used to this idea:
Humans might just be a hell of a lot better than we thought.
Sure, there’s been some stories here and there of behavior that’s far from ideal but I’ve received far more questions from folks asking about helping others and caring for others than anything else. I’ve heard and witnessed far more words of encouragement and support than anything else. I’ve had more people reaching out to offer help than anything else. I’m hearing account after account of other people experiencing the same.
People are not perfect but they are good. We are good. We’re going to do the best we know how through the next many months and we’re going to figure it out. Yes, there will be suffering and grieving but I am convinced that even though we might not be able to be there with each other we will be there for each other.
This is our opportunity to see how irrelevant and fragile the systems are that have held us apart for so long. As Solnit suggests, our tendency to want to be in community is so strong and so powerful that it takes a tremendous amount of resources to support the systems that keep us apart. As they fall, we will rise.
The days ahead are going to be difficult and deadly. There is no way to sugar coat that. However, in the coming days, I think there’s also a good chance we’re going to exceed our own expectations.
On the day the vaccination comes, I will celebrate with the rest of the world. However, I will also hold on with my whole being to this new thing we will have built together; this new life.
Follow me on Twitter @denton_rev
Rev. Mike Denton
Conference Minister of
Pacific Northwest Conference of
The United Church of Christ
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