Our liturgical theme for February 2020 is “Resilience“
Over the course of the year, in the words and music of Sunday services, in small groups and discussion circles, in classes for adults, children and youth, and in personal reflection and practice, our life together is anchored in a series of spiritual themes – one each month through the cycle of the year.
A couple of weeks ago, when we had the heavy wet snow, some of the bamboo trees behind my house started to bend under its weight. When the snow melted, all but one of the trees just sprang back up, tall and straight as ever. All of us have pressures that drive us to feel their weight. We bend and we bend. And, at least when trees bend under the pressure of snow or in the tumult of strong winds, it makes them stronger. In the experimental ecosystem Biosphere 2 built in the 1980s, the creators did not account for wind. The trees in Biosphere 2 grew quickly but started falling over before they reached maturity. The trees needed to be subjected to the pressure of the wind in order to develop “stress wood” which enables the trees to grow stronger and allows them to keep standing. Though we may not like it, we also need stressors to enable us to develop our own “stress wood”. That is what keeps us resilient.
February is Black History Month, and the history of African Americans in the U.S. is fraught with stressors, things meant to break the spirit and discourage resilience. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an exhibit named after the popular African American expression, “Making a Way Out of No Way” which highlights personal stories of those whose agency and creativity challenged racial oppression and discrimination.
They were able to find those cracks in the sidewalk. Those places that are seemingly hostile to growth, that nevertheless allow for inroads for growth. All of us, at some point in our lives, need to find those cracks, those places that might seem hostile but somehow allow us to break through the obstacles that prevent us from thriving. Remember the cracks, those things that might make us feel broken, are also the places where the light gets in.
Rev. Aileen Fitzke