October – From the Minister

More and more I have come to admire resilience. Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side, it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true. But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs—all this resinous, unretractable earth.

These lines from Jane Hirschfield are from her poem, “Optimism, ” which is no sunshiny, easy thing in these darkening, disturbing times. Optimism, hope, resilience—these are hard choices in harsh days, religious in their rigor. Our theme this month is faith—not easy, breezy, witless wishful thinking—but the resilient resolve to stay focused and bright.

We say yes to the future, even when the present is very cloudy; we say yes to the present, even when the past has all but crushed our spirit. We go on faith more than we admit, not goofy faith in crazy out-sized outcomes, nor in fact in any outcome, but faith in this good day, this good earth, these good companions, good work, good bread. We place our trust in small habits of the heart, and in something larger than ourselves which might be God but might also be community, present, past and future, the good work of good and decent people. It might just be love.

We’re part of that same resilient earth the poet writes about. We’re wired for resilience, designed to turn toward light. Not like Pollyannas, but sequoias. Oaks. Sycamore. All the deliberate ferns that have persevered since prehistoric times—the seemingly delicate ferns, curled and brown as fall draws down, waiting to explode with life in spring.

What do you turn toward? What do you believe in? What saves your life? In what good ground is your faith planted?

-Rev. Victoria Safford