The Rev. Ellen Rowse Spero
Spring is here! Allegedly, anyway. It feels as if it is having a hard time getting traction. We get glimpses, and then the colder weather returns. Hopefully, we are done with the snow.
Our worship theme for April is Possibility—very apropos for a season whose sacred stories revolve around new life, rebirth, liberation and resurrection. Possibility is part of all these things, as each begins in what Quaker folksinger Carrie Newcomer describes as “the almost but not yet.” Possibility invites us, like new life, rebirth, liberation, and resurrection, to be open to the truth that we do not know it all yet, and that the end of the story has not yet been written. Possibility invites us to be open to imagination, to discernment, to faithful risk taking. Possibility also reminds us that we are not in control of the universe. The world around us changes both rapidly and very slowly. There are things that we can’t keep up with and other things that we wish we could move swiftly through, but find we cannot. There are things we wish we could hang onto that leave too soon, and others that hang on despite our hard work to release them. This being human is a messy business. It is also a remarkable and beautiful one. It is what we have been given, along with this creation, and one another.
Hope is also an essential part of this season of Possibility, of new life, of rebirth, of liberation, of resurrection. Carrie Newcomer reminded me that hope is not a feeling, but a practice of faith. She offered a definition of hope by Parker Palmer--another Quaker teacher--as seeing what is and seeing what could, what might be and working to narrow the gap between them. Parker Palmer himself draws upon the words of a Unitarian Universalist, the Reverend Victoria Safford, for another definition of hope: Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges; nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right,” but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.
May we choose wisely the gate through which we enter into possibility.