It’s been two months since I wrote to you, and I thank you for your patience. I have been working on other writing projects and enjoyed two weeks of vacation (followed by a bout of Covid).
During that time, it seems the world has had a rough go. For the first time in US history, women’s rights over our bodies have been taken away. Mass shootings have taken dozens of lives. Covid is spiking once again. The January 6 Select Committee is revealing the moral failure of our leaders. Europe is melting in an unprecedented heatwave. Wildfires are threatening the Sequoia trees in California.
It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the future. We see so much suffering. So much pain.
It invites us to wonder about what pain and suffering can teach us. If we see pain the way that Jesus did, we see it as a way through to deeper understanding and transcendence. We journey through suffering as an inevitable part of being human. But the shift involves coming to see the wounds of suffering as sacred wounds. They become touchstones for our transformation. Or they can make us bitter, closed off and cynical. It’s our choice.
Psychologists tell us that if we don’t transform our pain, we will transmit it to others. Christianity and Judaism begin their story with “original sin” passed from generation to generation. The rest of the stories become ones of transformation through loving kindness and, finally, healing and forgiveness.
As I reflect on the divisions and conflict among us, it’s possible to see the struggle through the lens of transmission and transformation. The “originalists” who now dominate the Supreme Court in the United States act for a world transmitted to them by our colonialist past. Our work now is to find the way through to transformation – the de-centering of white, patriarchal power in the laws of the land. Those working to deny climate change and gun law reform are transmitting a belief system honoring individualism over the collective good. Our work is to find the way through to transformation – our awakening to our interdependence with all of creation and our shared investment in planetary thriving.
It’s understandable to feel weighed down by the challenges of this age. The pain is heartbreaking, and the suffering is great. But I think of the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” We follow the light. We hold out for hope. We work for transformation.
Keep the faith…
We are in this together,
Rev. Cameron Trimble
Author of Searching for the Sacred: Meditations on Faith, Hope and Love