This chapter was hard. Reading about Oak Creek in such detail. Experiencing that story with an author that doesn’t look away or flinch. Really, really hard. A couple of things came up for me when reading this chapter. First, I was raised in a household where hard things were avoided. We simply just didn’t talk about them. If someone, dared break that rule, reality was denied. There was simply no capacity to name or sit with hard things.
Now, one of the biggest parts of my job, is to sit with hard things that people acknowledge are happening. Often, when I’m present during intense grief, I focus on my breath. I take long deep breaths and ask God that those around me feel God’s presence and peace. It’s my way of “doing” something when there is really nothing to be done. It grounds me and helps me feel present so that I’m able to stay in the moment and acknowledge the hard things.
At one point in the chapter Kaur mentions that we may not see the fruits of our labor during our lifetime, we labor anyway. That was helpful to me. In a results-oriented, I want it now culture, I can get frustrated with efforts that feel like they lack results. And yet, I believe two things. First, the effort does change the world – even if it’s not in ways that I can see. Second, the effort changes me. When I live a life and take actions aligned with my values, I become closer to God.
The reminder that we may not see results is also freeing. It frees me to take a breath and step away from efforts because it reminds me that this is long, slow progress. My effort contributes to that process and the longer I can sustain the effort the bigger impact I will have. I don’t labor alone and I’m not the solo savior of the universe. This is not the kind of thing where if I just stick it out until this one thing happens, if I just get this piece right, everything will change.
I wonder how we, as a church community, can better support one another to sustain our efforts in doing work where we might not see the results in our lifetime. How can we celebrate one another’s efforts? How can we renew one another’s spirits?