I’ve been grieving this week. I’ve been grieving the loss of American lives to Covid-19. One in five hundred Americans have died, yet we are still arguing over masks and vaccines. I’ve been grieving over the polarization between political parties, and divided communities, and explosive school board meetings across the country. I’ve been grieving and yet trusting as the vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, as the booster arrives for those over age 65 (please get it!), as we continue to respond and adapt to our changing circumstances.
Even as our present context has brought me to my knees in prayer, I am reminded that disruption is often the context for deep change. And so, my prayer is not shaped by words but surrender. I find myself seeking to abide in the mystery that I might the emergence of a new way of being. In my dwelling, I trust even when no immediate resolution to our present circumstances seems to be on the horizon.
My dwelling time has led me to reflect on the crucibles in life. Those times when I’ve not been able to bypass the fire, but rather are led through it by grace. As I’ve reflected on my own fiery furnaces, I’ve been reminded of how much I have learned through my failures and how much I’ve grown.
Often, we are not saved from life’s trials. Rather we are shaped and formed by them. We live in a culture that has become expert at avoiding pain (or at least attempting it). Yet, deep down we know that trial, temptation, and even failure are often gifts in disguise.
It should not surprise us therefore, that spiritual growth, essential to change leadership, entails suffering, pain, and struggle. Our trials and temptations become the means by which barriers come down. The gift and burden of free will means that we must choose to embrace the pain, rather than run from it. Such is the paradox of this time.
One note of caution: Crucibles alone do not transform us. They can, however, help us loosen our grip, free us trying to control the outcome, and bring us home to ourselves, one another, and this world.
May we dare to embrace the pain of this time as a form of rebirth!