Images of winter weather.
Over the weekend, I saw this salient tweet by Drew Brown. It reads:
Talking with a pastor friend in the US and these words fell out of my mouth. “Churches are dangerous when their past is more important to them than their future.”
Dead silence on the other line.
“Wait. Say that again.”
This is so true… When churches cannot prioritize the future, and are instead driven to recapture the past, they cannot be relevant, at best. At worst, however, they begin to prioritize the most damaging instincts of the past, or they drive off the people, visions, and innovations that could move them forward.
This is also true in families.
This is also true in politics.
This is also true in systems of any kind.
There is wisdom here.
Okay, I’m doing it, just like so many others are now. And I’m here to try to get you to do the same. All the cool kids are in on it, and I want you to have as much fun as we are.
It’s just one word per day, and it’s a really fun way to start the morning, especially knowing that your friends are playing too and solving for the same word all at the same time.
There are times in our lives when we need to live a stance like this:
“I’m not done with you, but I’m done with this.”
“I’m not done with you all, but I’m done with what you’re doing right now.”
“I’m not done with this vision, but I’m done with these dynamics.”
“I’m not done with hoping, but I’m done with this thing I never hoped for.”
“I’m not done with me (self love) but I want to be done with this pattern/expression/unconscious behavior/lack of self love.”
It takes strength to hold to both sides of this, and we might need to come back to both sides of this stance multiple times in order to recommit or adjust in the ways we feel are helpful for the situation. We may need others to help us with this too. When we hold to these and live them, we invite transformation. That is certainly true for ourselves, but it can be true within relationships and communities too.
Earlier this month, scientists launched the James Webb Space Telescope into space. This took place a decade later than originally planned and more than 1000% over budget. People have been working on this for a long time, and much has been invested into what it can do.
I loved listening to scientists talk about the James Webb Space Telescope on Vox’s podcast Unexplainable. One of the astronomers shared that through tools, including this telescope, we are “the universe understanding itself.” I love that language and that thought.
Likewise, NASA’s Juno mission around Jupiter has yielded knowledge and beauty. Today, enjoy the clearest images of Jupiter we’ve ever seen. You are the universe, understanding and and admiring itself.
These beautifully real images are some of the closest images of Jupiter. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but slightly less than one-thousandth the mass of the Sun. The original image was captured by JunoCam, the camera on NASA’s Juno mission in orbit around Jupiter. This image was taken on Juno’s 22nd close pass by Jupiter on Sept. 12, 2019 with image processing done by Prateek.: NASA’s Juno Space Probe / JunoCam
I recently watched someone speak skillfully to a topic at hand but smartly slide in a phrase of snark that actually referred to another matter entirely. It seemed as though it was about this context, but instead, it was intended to convey to someone present, “I see and acknowledge how you were treated in that previous matter, and that was not okay. You have my support.”
Not everyone could catch it, but I happened to know about both contexts.
That was masterful. That was the beautiful artistry of solidarity.
I’ve never been a big, send-cards-in-the-mail person. I confess that I never do Christmas cards, though many wonderful people send them my way, and I’m grateful for those. And in addition to the holiday time, I’ve received a lot of kind, out-of-the-blue cards during the pandemic. Even more recently, I’ve received some meaningful birthday cards.
Then recently, I’ve become a sender too.
When I was in Texas for Christmas, my chosen family gave me some Bob Ross cards. They have Bob Ross paintings on the front, and cute, little Bob Ross cards quotes inside. I’ve been sending these to community members, saying affirmations and words of appreciation. They’ve meant a lot to people.
This has also been fun to me. And this is a reminder, card or not, that surprise words of connection or affirmation mean a lot — both in the giving and the receiving.
I don’t know if you’re a card person or not, but perhaps we could prioritize sharing some words of affirmation with someone today? This is especially lovely if they’re not expecting it.
I love to wake up early, sit in my little nook room on a couch near a fireplace-looking space heater, drink some morning coffee, and have some time to myself. I truly love it. I am an extrovert, and I do care work. I spend so much of my day in communication with people, hearing their big needs and personal celebrations, and I do this joyfully.
But I also love this early morning window of introversion. I need it. It’s necessary.
What is your sacrosanct downtime? What does it look like? What do you do? What do you not do?
Dwight L. Wilson, one of my mentors, is publishing a book of modern psalms under the title, “Joyful Perseverance.” I believe those words convey so much, and this includes as many questions as declarations.
How do we experience joy in an era when we are working to persevere?
When we’ve come through difficulty, is there a certain type of joy on the other side?
Is perseverance itself joyful? Can resilience feel joyful in our bodies? In our communities?
Can joy and perseverance coexist?
Can we share the benefits of each other’s joy, even in a time when perseverance is paramount and requiring much of our energy?
Can communities persevere by upholding occasions to celebrate and delight in their members?
Many questions and many stories could fall under the title, “Joyful Perseverance.” I only know this — when we have moments to celebrate life and the gift of each other, it’s important to make joy-filled space for it.
I was in a Zoom meeting last week in which people were meeting each other for the first time. The host was interviewing a few of us us. We had already talked about vision for an organization, our experience in community work, and the importance of community dialogue. Then he asked,
What’s your favorite sea creature?
Everyone on the screen got to answer that question, and the answers were really silly and delightful. I found myself enjoying that playfulness became a part of this meeting too.
This week, I’m going to be holding a number of meetings as well, and I hope that moments of connectional silliness can show up at the right times.
Oh, and also, it’s a cuttlefish. Oh, and also, narwhals are real.