It’s a lot. It’s too much, really.
Our minds were not meant to process all the information that is now flooding our days. Our hearts seem not quite large enough to fit all the cares that cry for our attention.
Gun violence and the simultaneous weakening of gun safety regulations. The torrent of news about shootings already felt overwhelming. Then it came even closer to home when three people were killed at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, where a friend to many of us serves as rector.
The gradual chipping away of safe and careful choices for women and families over the years and in different places, and then the sudden wiping away of rights for people in already difficult circumstances to make prayerful, private decisions with the guidance of doctors and loved ones.
The daily toll and toil of living in a world that curtails and threatens the lives of people of color, and how that damages not only the targets of racism but everyone entangled in its web of suspicion, dread, and animosity.
The looming threat to members of the LGBTQ community who – having grasped a moment where loving who you love can be shown outwardly – now hear and feel the murmurings of those rights and privileges being snatched away again.
And climate change and wealth inequalities and political conniving and and and … And all of these vast issues touch our small lives, and all the while, we live our small lives full of worries about health and finances and relationships and the work that each day brings.
Thomas Aquinas (not generally my go-to-guy, but tough times call for all the saints) reminds me that despairing is one of the darker sins a Christian can commit. Despair convinces us that, as he said, “one’s own malice is worse than Divine Goodness.” Despair wants to overwhelm and bury hope. Despair wants you and me to believe that it’s too late, that we’re too far gone, that we’re alone, that nothing can save us now. Despair wrote the second sentence in this blog article, “it’s too much, really.”
This is not when I sunnily tell myself or you that God won’t give us more than we can handle. This is not a time for platitudes. Instead, this is a time when we cry out as the faithful have been calling out for millennia for help: the Israelites cried out from oppression, the psalmist flooded his bed with tears, the disciples locked themselves in a room. Despair has been lurking in the story all along. And so has hope. Hope lurks in the stories too. Hope isn’t just optimistic wishful thinking. Hope is muscular and demanding. Hope can be hard. Our calling out for help is an expression of hope. Our showing up, even when we’re tired and have more questions than answers is an expression of hope.
We need hope, and we need each other to build up our hope muscles. Gathering for prayer, for action, for weeping, for strategizing, for sustenance, for companionship. This is what God’s people have been doing since the days of the midwives in the opening chapter of Exodus; it’s what the disciples understood they needed to do when they didn’t understand anything else. It’s what freedom riders did, and it’s what networks of people who opened their homes and their hearts to those in need of safety did.
When I was sitting in the Calvary nave a few weeks ago after the Uvalde shooting, I drifted through the psalms and tried to pray. I lit a couple of candles and sat there feeling numb. And then a line of a hymn squirreled its way up from somewhere inside me …
“But the slow watches of the night no less to God belong /
and for the everlasting right, the silent stars are strong.” (Hymn 615)
I feel companionship and hope in the quiet, almost empty church; I find a friend in a hymn writer from the nineteenth century, and from contemporary and ancient poets, and in a group text; I discover a way forward over a shared meal. And I recall, thanks to an eleventh-century Italian priest, that this tumult and turmoil are happening, and somehow none of this malice is greater than the Divine Goodness of God. Turning to God, turning to one another, turning to face the challenges, we hold on to hope. Together with each other and with God, we can hold the large and swirling news of each day, we can put our minds together and grow our hearts in company with the faithful.
Are you reeling from the news? Throughout July, we will offer opportunities to find companionship in the whirlwind. Come to Calvary at any of the following times for prayer and conversation about recent news and events.
Wednesdays, July 6, 13, 20, brown bag lunch at 12:30, following the noon Healing Eucharist. You are welcome to come for the service, the gathering, or both.
Wednesday evening, July 20, small bites and beverages provided at 6:00.
More gatherings may follow, and we’ll discern together some paths forward.
67 thoughts on “It’s a lot.”
Beautifully said, Katherine! In hopes, Fontaine
Thanks for reading, Fontaine – in hope, indeed!
Katherine, thank you. I especially liked your quote from St Thomas Aquinas.
Thanks, Steve. Drawing on ancient wisdom helps ground me.
Thank you, Katherine. I needed this hopeful message.
We all need to be reminded that we’re not alone. Thanks for reading
Oh what wise and comforting words, Katherine. Not pious or Pollyanna-ish, but HONEST. Thank you,
Thank you, Linda – This isn’t the time (well, it’s never the time) for easy, glossy words. We need to be truthful about the world and about how we are feeling.
Thank you for capturing so many of our current concerns and providing the overall theme of Hope, Katherine. Great reminder for me and us all.
Thanks, Mary. The current concerns are real, and hope is real too!
Thank you, Katherine.
Thanks for reading, Peggy
Thank you Katherine 🙂
Thanks for reading, Molly
Hi Anne, so lovely to hear from you – thanks for reading!
I needed to read this today. I didn’t know others were struggling too. Thank you.
Rhea, you are not alone! SO many of us are overwhelmed. Thanks for reading
What a helpful message. Beautifully said, and exactly what I needed to hear as I dust myself off from the news and slowly rise…
Melissa, love your response – “dust yourself off and slowly rise”
Thanks for reading!
Thanks, Katherine, for the comfortable words. The hymn reference was so meaningful to me. If stranded on a desert island, a hymnal is all I’d need! Debbie
Hi Debbie, I still think of your love for certain hymns (was it “Love came down” that you held so fondly?)
They are a comfort, and thankfully, will be lodged in our brains when lots of other information is lost.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you, Katherine. Price
Hey Price – Thanks for reading and reaching out!
Helpful words during these troubling days. The Thomas Aquinas paragraph really struck a chord.
Thank you, Katherine.
Thanks for reading, Brian – Sometimes those really old words can reach across and help us today!
Thank you Katherine,
I don’t feel alone and in despair after reading this because I’m not alone and more importantly for me, I know who you are and hearing these words from a familiar soul comforts me. I remember that the hope I always carry is just as prominent when I get my head out of the picture. That love all around us is right here. The pandemic has made it more difficult for me to connect with my usual reminding sources, but I know its all around us. Thanks again for your words.
Hey Zada, thanks for your generous response and kind words. The message of the pandemic was “isolate yourself,” and while that was necessary for physical health, it’s hard on our mental/emotional/spiritual health. I’m glad you’re still finding your ‘reminding sources’ and remembering that you are not alone.
So many of us needed to see this. Thank you.
Thanks for being part of my village this week, Allison.
Your words and those of this community speak to my despair about the future of our society, and give me courage to keep on keeping on. We are a village here; there are many villages, we aren’t giving up….guess that’s hope.
Hey Bill, Glad to be part of encouraging you to keep on. You and your work are an encouragement to me!
God bless you for these words. My hope muscles are undernourished and underused right now.
Working on strength building.
Brenda, I know the feeling about atrophied hope muscles. Time for all of us to build them up together.
Thank you for this timely message. I’ll be working on my hope muscle with you all. Peace
Thanks for reading, Leslie – Good to be doing this in community with faithful friends!
Thank you so much, Katherine! These pandemic years have been difficult enough, but the added turmoil of recent violence and political rug-snatching has nearly doused the flame of hope. Your thoughtful words are a blessed reminder of our unquenchable fountain of love and hope on a day that has been particularly wrenching for a young neighbor family, and me.
Blessings to you!
Linda, thanks for reaching out – these have been hard days, weeks, months, years … Glad the flame is still burning!
Well said Katherine – thank you!
Anna, thanks for reading – hope you are well!
As long as I’ve known you, Katherine, I’m still amazed that you’re not afraid to share your deepest feelings, thoughts, fears, doubts and questions. It’s what makes you so accessible and what makes me feel I’m not the only one who is adrift and frightened. Openness in conversation is what’s needed to restore our hope and belief that we’re not alone in these troubling times. Thank you!
Kate, I am often afraid, but I have learned the hard way that sharing my fears is the best way to shrink them and to discover that I’m not alone. Thanks for reading and being part of the conversation.
Definitely needed to read this. Thanks, as always, for sharing your gifts! Miss you!
Thanks for reading Stephanie, best wishes on your new adventures!
Very well said Kate. Hope you and your family are well. It was great to see and visit with your parents!
Hey – Glad y’all got to connect – and thanks for reading!
What they all said! Thank you, Katherine, for helping pull us out of these dark days and offering us hope.
Hi Mandy- Thanks for reading!
Hope always has to live!
Thank you so much for writing and sharing this beautifully nuanced meditation.
Thanks for reading and the kind words, Jennifer
When I first started reading this, I was so down as I thought through the scenarios you outlined. Then the light started to dawn.. As are many people, the dark is closing around but hope is the key. And people and faith. We need those reminders on a regular basis as this world keeps caving in.
Ginny, thanks so much for reading and responding. The world feels like it’s “caving in” to me too… I’m so glad to be in a community that looks for the light – and that we can do that for and with each other!
Thank you, Katherine, for your amazing insights.
Thanks for reading, Joanna – I hope you are well.
I have returned to this post time after time in the past day and even printed it out to remind myself to be bold in hope instead of despairing. Thank you for sharing your gift of insight with us.
Clay, thanks for sharing how these words have helped you. Hope isn’t always the easiest path, so we all need encouragement!
Thank you, Kate. You made me cry, as the psalmists cry! I needed that so much, and I’m not surprised at all that it came from your wise and Spirit filled words.
Thanks for reading, Jimpsie!
Katherine, I, too, wanted to join those sending thanks. I was struggling with so many conflicting feelings on the day before July 4 celebrations. Your message was just what I needed.
Palmer, this holiday hits differently for me too (and a lot of others as my social media feed attests) – remembering that the struggle for full liberty for everyone has always been just that – a struggle. Thanks for reading
And then there came the shooting of Americans as they watched their local July 4th parade. Here comes the despair. Read something that gives me hope like your beautiful blog! It is way too much. Wish I could join you for your noonday talks. Peace from Pensacola.
It feels like way too much, Helen. Hope you are well in Pensacola!
Dear Katherine – Courtney shared your post with me. Thank you for the uplifting message. We all need to hold onto hope during this time in our country. The forces of good alway prevail but it takes work, sacrifice and a loving community.
Oh, Mrs. Mainardi – how completely wonderful to hear from you! You taught me so much about believing in democracy in seventh grade … Thanks for reading and for reaching out. I hope y’all are all well, and I’m sure you’re part of the work, the sacrifice, and the loving communities we need!