return of hope

[Here’s a second quote used by Margaret Anne at her Fireside Chat last week. This one is great to remember as the days get shorter these next couple of weeks:]

“The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our
planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we
will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As
we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects
of winter’s darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this
space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.”

  • from “A Celebration of Winter Solstice” in The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

wintering

[Now in her last weeks as our president, Dr. Margaret Anne Smith shared a Fireside Chat in which she addressed our term’s theme of “hope.” Given the time of year and the ongoing challenges of a pandemic, Margaret Anne shared some quotes that remind us of the role of hope in these harder and winter-darker days. This is the first of some quotes that I’ll share from her talk:]

Wintering is a way to get through tough times by chilling, hibernating, healing, re-grouping. “Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it is essential.”

  • from Katherine May, Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

agents of transformation

When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world. In this way, even in our own hidden life, you can become a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world. There is a huge force that opens when intention focuses and directs itself toward transformation.

– John O’Donohue

does my soul still sing?

Does my soul still sing?
Though the winter’s edge
has stolen the light
long before the night
was supposed to fall,
does my soul still sing? 

Maybe she just hums
the late January
crocus’ song

psalm 42 retold

[SSU ministry student, Jessica Williams, recently shared this personal re-telling of Psalm 42]:

As a newborn babe cries out for the milk of her mother, so I cry out for you, O God.

I thirst for God, the living God.

As an orphaned child longs to be held by the arms of their parents, I have longed to be held by You.

When can I go and stand before the One who made me?

Day in and day out I taste these tears that fall upon my lips,

And evil endures in ways that confound me, saying

“Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking inside my chest,

It wasn’t always like this.

I can remember a time when the church felt like a safe shelter,

I walked in freely and we worshiped together.

There was space for me and we sang with joy in our hearts, giving thanks in celebration.

So how did I get here?

Why has this pain come now?

I am sick with sadness, it reaches to my core.

Put your hope in God, I say. And I will. I will hope in God.

I will hope in Goodness. I will hope in Love. I will hope in Beauty and in the power of the Human Spirit. I will hope in Compassion and in Mercy and in Justice. I will hope in unruly children and in rebellious youth and in persistent women and in kind men who are willing to change their minds.

I will hope in God.

And I will find a way to praise You again.

But, right now, I am deeply discouraged.

Still, I remember You.

Even from the far-away place of my youth. The Cascade Mountains, the source of the Deschutes River and the land surrounding Cougar Mountain. That is where I knew you first.

But the deepest places in me keep calling out to the deepest places.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas as wave after soul crushing wave sweeps over me.

The tide pulls me out again.

I cannot catch my breath.

And yet, every day of my life, You’ve poured out your unfailing love upon me.

And even through the darkest nights your songs were on my lips.

I have found that I can only pray to the God who gives me life.

O God, You’re the only thing that’s stable here, but still I cry,

“Where are you? Have you really forgotten me?”

Why am I still wandering around in grief? I’m unable to see a path and the darkness laughs, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”

I am so discouraged.

My heart is sick with sadness.

But I will bury my hope down deep into God.

And one day, I will praise You again.