Guns and God: A Progressive Christian View

by Tony Minear

I own a hand gun. It is a 22 Ruger revolver single action with a 6-inch barrel. I received it from my dad on my 18th birthday. I even bought a genuine leather western-style holster in Tijuana to go with it. The next two summers I played cowboy while working at a church summer camp. I haven’t shot that gun for over twenty years. I go back and forth between selling it or some day giving it to one of my grandchildren. However, the possibility of one of my grandchildren or any individual doing harm to themselves or someone else, intentional or unintentional, frightens me. Occasionally, I contemplate literally carrying out the Hebrew scripture, “Hammer your swords into plowshares and your spears into pruning hooks.” I could have my pistol melted down to a pile of metal. Maybe even molded into a miniature plow. Not sure how the grandchild would like receiving a plow as an heirloom.

With the recent church shooting in Vegas and now Texas, the topic of gun control is once more front and center in our conversations. What can Progressive Christianity bring to the table in this arena? I offer an entrée, food for thought, for your culinary pleasure. What one believes about God can inform one’s stance on gun control.

Would Jesus under any circumstance condone a human being taking the life of another? No. Would one human being inflicting violence upon another ever be present in the realm of God’s will, which Jesus envisioned, either now or in a future “heaven?” No.

My understanding of Jesus’ view of the Kingdom of God, or God’s will for humanity, is centered around God’s love and value of life. Yet some stories in the Bible seem to contradict this. God is said to have ordered the genocide of groups of non-Hebrews. Justification? They are evil. Yet God admits to using a wicked people (The Hebrews), who are slightly less evil, as executioners. This doesn’t compute. Perhaps our willingness, and at times, desire, to use violence influences how we interpret God’s will and imagine God. For me this does compute. If God is inclined to acts of violence, no wonder we are too.

Wasn’t it God who established and decreed that the results of sin are death? Wasn’t it God who desired daily sacrifices for enjoyment and appeasement? Isn’t it God who continues to use the threat of death as a means to shape our beliefs and control our behavior? If God constructed a system of justice based upon death and violence, is it any wonder that some Christians and nations are comfortable turning to violence to resolve their problems or punish evildoers? Is it any wonder that some Christians carry a gun and are willing to use it to protect themselves or their family? Is it any wonder that efforts to legislate laws to limit certain guns in our communities, to decrease the chances of such weapons ending up in the hands of unstable individuals, or to take steps promoting gun safety in homes, are opposed by some Christians?

What if this picture and understanding of God as violent and using violence is incorrect? What if what the historical Jesus taught about God and God’s kingdom being encapsulated in one word, “love,” is right? I choose to believe it is. For this reason, I read all of scripture through the filter of love. It is my bias. It is the presupposition I bring to my study of the Bible. It is the reason why I choose not to have ammunition for my gun in the house. It is the reason I continue to ponder the validity of a pacifist life for myself and what that might look like. It is the reason why I’m googling metal artists who can take a gun and turn it into a plow.

Sacred Courage

by Davin Franklin-Hicks

I greeted the morning by taking our beloved pit-bull Lu out for a walk. We encountered a wounded owl in distress, flailing, unable to fly, but still trying.

Lu didn’t really react. I wasn’t sure she noticed as I didn’t approach the owl, just observed, and then brought Lu back inside as I worked with some neighbors to get the owl some help.

When animal rescue workers got there, I went inside and got Lu, intending to take her on a walk again, since we had to cut the first walk short. I was nervous Lu would react so I started walking the other way, trying to distract her as they helped the owl. She definitely noticed this time. She was transfixed, but not making any sound. I kept trying to have her walk with me but she was not having it. We stayed far enough away to not interfere and I just let Lu be. She stared. And then laid down. She was calmly and silently watching. It took about ten minutes and she remained.

When the owl was removed I expected her to want to walk. She continued to just lay there in this restful, peace-filled way. It took my breath away. There was something happening and it really felt sacred to see, but I wasn’t sure why I was having that response.

During my prayer and meditation time I sat with this some.

Why did that matter so much?
Why was I moved by her complete and full presence in that moment?
Why is there a need for bearing witness?
Why do we sit endlessly with loved ones as they die?
Why is this sacred?

Empathy.

Our mirror neurons in our brain make us able to climb into the lived experience we are watching. As we witness the lived experience of others we see ourselves.

That scares the ever living stuffing out of us at times.

If we acknowledge suffering exists, we cannot deny that suffering is a part of all of this living. We cannot deny suffering will happen to us. And we hate that.

It takes courage to admit our fragility, our limitations, and our mortality. It’s hard to live a life that we know will one day end. It feels impossible to live while also accepting that we will one day flail where we used to fly.

What was the invitation for the sacred moment I experienced? Was it in the watching? We have all kinds of motivations to watch all kinds of things. In and of itself I don’t think the sacredness was in the watching.

I think the sacredness was invited the moment we realized we were seeing suffering. The sacredness was that we stayed.

Wisdom to know the difference

 

You may frequently pray, as I do, the Serenity Prayer in which you ask for serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And of course the wisdom to know the difference makes all the difference!

I see spiritual direction as a wisdom practice.

I go to spiritual direction to get a “perception check” on knowing the difference. For example, I have one support person in my life–a mental health practitioner–who has advised me to stop watching and listening to the news because “politics will always be full of rancor and conflict, and natural disasters will always be horrible.” She wants me to accept how little control I have in matters of national and international importance. Then I have other people in my life, friends and encouragers I call my “dream team,” who tell me we can make a difference if only we do X, Y or Z. Perhaps both are right, but even so, I need the wisdom to know the difference between shutting the news off and just going about my life as if all is well, and staying informed and making my voice heard.

I haven’t figured it all out. I haven’t found my wisdom. And my spiritual director doesn’t tell me what wisdom is, but he’s quite good at noticing when I have located my own wisdom in this question. And I hope I do that for those who come to me for spiritual direction.

What is wisdom? In one sense, it is the female biblical figure, Sophia, described as God’s helper who was present at the origin of the world. Every now and then I like to dig into the Apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, to reflect on the nature of Wisdom.

“Wisdom is a reflection of eternal light.
She is a spotless mirror of the working of God.”
Wisdom 7:26-27

“Wisdom reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she orders all things well.”
Wisdom 8:1

As spiritual directors, we seek to hold this metaphorical Wisdom mirror up to our directees so that they can see the working of God in their lives. So that they can develop “the wisdom to know the difference” in their own lives.

As for my question, wisdom tells me to stay informed without becoming overloaded, to cut through the boarishness of political discourse and keep my eyes instead on the issues that affect people’s daily lives. I’ll use my voice when I can and hope for the best. Most of all, I will work on trusting that Wisdom orders all things well!

Spiritual Formation at the Conference Level or – “What’s up with Lay Academy?”

by Karen Richter  

A small but tenacious group has continued thinking and dreaming and talking about lay theological education in the Southwest Conference. Julie McCurdy from the Prescott congregation and I attended the Regional Theological Education Consortium gathering in Oberlin, Ohio last fall. We had an opportunity to see what other groups are doing regarding lay education, preparation for authorization, alternatives to traditional seminaries, and support for formation in local congregations.

Since November, conversations have continued and lots LOTS of questions have come about…

  • What formation experiences are best kept in the context of the local congregation?
  • What’s the purpose (mission, goals, etc.) of lay formation at the conference level?
  • What are other organizations doing and how can we participate in those efforts in a mutually beneficial way?
  • How can the conference best support “everyday” formation of laity in our congregations?
  • What are the various needs for discernment resources and skills in different settings?
  • What are we hearing about what people need? What do people need that maybe they’re not yet aware of?

As I’ve thought and daydreamed, I have found it helpful to make some little piles – metaphorically tossing ideas and concepts into where-does-this-happen groups.

In the “Local Church” pile, I’ve put

  • Discipleship
  • Navigating culture as a person of faith and conscience
  • Discernment and calling (“what work in the world is mine to do?”)
  • Interpersonal and family support networks
  • Values clarification

In the “Southwest Conference / Middle Judicatory” pile, I’ve put

  • Navigating culture as a congregation/institution/denomination
  • New church forms and ways of being church together, sometimes called Church 3.0
  • Discernment around authorization (“in what way am I called to authorized ministry?”)
  • Boundary training
  • Leadership development for congregation and the conference
  • Available resources for staff and volunteers managing formation at local churches

What’s left that doesn’t have an easily defined pile?

  • Nonviolent direct action training and mentoring
  • Church history
  • Mid-level theology (that broad territory between Sunday School and seminary)
  • Meditation and spiritual practices beyond the basics
  • Interfaith, ecumenical, and multiple religious belonging conversations

What have I left out? Where do you see your own needs reflected in these piles, if anywhere? Where is energy around spiritual formation and lay education bubbling up around the conference (hat tip to Barb Doerrer-Peacock for this evocative language)?

Share your thoughts (karen@shadowrockucc.org or bdoerrerpeacock@uccswc.org) Conversations continue – stay tuned! In the meantime, please hold in prayer those called to work on lay formation in our congregations and throughout the United Church of Christ.

S-h-h-h

by Karen MacDonald

So much sound and fury….

Harvey,

     Irma,

          Jose,

               Katia,

                    Maria.

Earthquakes.
Nuclear saber-rattling.
Refugee migrations and suffering around the world….and so much more….

How to respond, what to do?
Be quiet, pay attention to spirit.

Fast from the whirlwind of words and images around and within.
     Step away from the demands of schedules and tasks.
          Withdraw from the anxiety of so much to resist and to assist.

Be pilgrims on a journey to purify our hearts, rather than to speak our piece. (1)
Tend the fire of the Spirit in us, so that we have warmth to offer those in need. (2)
Be in solitude
     be still
          be.

Only then, speak
     with the power of “a word that comes out of silence.” (3)

Only then, act
     with the strength of a deed that comes out for serving.
Then will beauty and life shine in and through us.

S-h-h-h….

     not in a great and mighty wind,
     not in an earthquake,
     not in a wildfire—
          rather, in a “soft, murmuring sound” (4)
          did Elijah meet G-d.

“Another world is not only possible, she’s on her way.  Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.” (5)

(1) based on Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
(2) Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
(3) Ibid.
(4) I Kings 19:12, The Jewish Study Bible
(5) Arundhati Roy, “Come September”, in The Impossible Will Take a Little While (Paul Rogat Loeb, editor)

Hooked

by Davin Franklin-Hicks

It was simple really.
We were looking for nourishment.
We were looking for food
We thought we found it.
We were eager, driven by hunger.
We chomped down and we knew
Right away
We were tricked.
There wasn’t any nourishment
There was only a hook and we are on it.

It hurts.
It really hurts.
It pierces and mars.
It harms us.
It injures us

We flail and thrash.
We have to get away.
And in our best effort of pulling away,
the hook sinks in deeper.

I know a thing or two about hooks.
And the line
And the sinker
Got some scars to prove it.

Here are some things I have learned.
We never respond to people or events.
We never do.
Never.
Ever.

We respond to our own perception of people and events.
We respond to our own feelings from the perceptions we have of people and events.
This means most of what we tell ourselves is a way to frame and understand the world.
The stories help us figure things out, but the stories themselves are not true.
The stories are within us, written in such a way that we can face forward and keep going.
We are making choices based on what we think is happening, many times making choices out of fear.
We can enhance our capacity to make loving choices if we can understand the narratives are myth.

Fear is powerful. We try to respond with as much power we can muster by thrashing and pulling and fighting. The thrashing makes sense to the panic within us in times of fear and pain. Thrashing feels like a choice. It feels like we are doing something to help ease the hurt. We are not. We often confuse the expelling of energy as progress when really it often just makes us exhausted.

Frenzied thrashing does not work for sustaining life. It is fear based and reactive. It is dangerous if this is our main way of being.

The perceptions of our life is what hooks us. The lies and stories we tell ourselves, the justifications, the rationalizations, the ruminations all merge into a single, solitary hook that now hurts. We fall for it a lot and the thrashing begins.

But then…
after the thrashing
in the silence,
in the exhaustion ,
in the darkness,
we see some inklings of light, hope and peace.
If we can open our hearts to it, we will feel the know the true power of acceptance.

Many misunderstand acceptance.
Some see it as weak.
Others see it as surrender.
Still others see it as saying we are ok with the awful thing that just happened. That we endorse it in some way.
Not true.

Acceptance is not dismissing the pain. It’s acknowledging that the pain exists.
Acceptance is not surrendering to the harm. It is simply acknowledging that the harm happened.

This is hard stuff.
That hook changes things and makes us weary.
Getting off that hook is never poetic while it is happening.
A soundtrack of peace, love and ease does not accompany the process.
It is marring and bloody.
It is scary and painful.

In this process of thrashing and accepting, flailing and yielding the difficulty fades into the background as we foster a nurturing, loving heart.
It comes complete with its very own set of self-compassion and graciousness.
In that grace comes the realization that we are off the hook.

Finally.
Completely.
Fully.
Free.

Should, Must, Gotta, and Have-To

by Karen Richter

Are you tired? I seem to have a lot of tired friends lately. Whether they are parents, activists, or just in a career building phase (or all three!), I see caring and beloved humans all around me moving from one obligation to another.

“I just gotta…”
“Guess I should…”
“My must-do today is…”
“I’m sorry but I have to…”

This makes me sad because we are not called to a life of Shoulds and Gottas.

But… there’s work to do, right? The world’s a mess and its needs call to us, right? When we pray, asking God to feed the hungry, God says, “I sent you,” right? It’s arrogance to think that the world is depending our our little bit, but at the same time, the world IS DEPENDING ON OUR LITTLE BIT! How do we reconcile this mental anguish and move on?

tree pose
tree pose

I’ve spent my summer doing yoga (now that’s random… just bear with me). I’m struggling with Tree pose; it’s a balancing pose and my balance is pretty crap. My teacher says, “Feel your feet. Hello, feet! Feel two corners in the front of your feet and one corner in the back of your feet.” When I’m a good listening little yogi, I do this and THEN I can raise one foot and lift my arms into Tree. When I try to jump right in, without talking to my feet and feeling my foundation, I wobble like crazy and my Tree pose doesn’t do much.

It’s my humble suggestion to approach our work, especially in social justice, in the same grounding, foundational way. First, we must feel our freedom. Freedom is our birthright, our calling, a gift from God. Freedom is the three corners of our feet.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Feel your freedom, friends; stand firm. From this foundation, move joyfully into your work.

Fear: An Invitation to Risk

by Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons

“Fear is good,” says Peter Bolland. “It keeps us alive. It keeps us from falling off cliffs, touching fire and kissing rattlesnakes.”

“If [humans] were to lose his capacity to fear, he would be deprived of his capacity to grow, invent, and create. So in a sense fear is normal, necessary, and creative. Normal fear protects us; motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare.”

SO why does the Bible consistently encourage us to ‘fear not?’

  • Do not be afraid – 70 times in 67 verses
  • Do not fear – 58 times in 57 verses

Because “there is another kind of fear, abnormal fear,” wrote Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Abnormal fear paralyzes us, constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives.”

Fear can be “our greatest liability,” according to Bolland. “It keeps us from taking the risks necessary to develop our unrealized potential. If we let it, fear has the power to keep us from becoming who we really are. Fear is a thief that steals our joy.”

“FEAR is one of the persistent hounds of hell that dog the footsteps of the poor, the dispossessed, the disinherited,” wrote Howard Thurman. “There is nothing new or recent about fear—it is doubtless as old as the life of man on the planet.

“when the power and the tools of violence are on one side, the fact that there is no available and recognized protection from violence makes the resulting fear deeply terrifying.

“Fear…becomes the safety device with which the oppressed surround themselves in order to give [themselves] some measure of protection…”

Certainly I resonant with Dr. King’s observation, “In these days of catastrophic change and calamitous uncertainty, is there any [one] who does not experience the depression and bewilderment of crippling fear, which, like a nagging hound of hell, pursues our every footstep?”

Dr. King was right when he preached, “Our problem is not to be rid of fear but rather to harness and master it.”

But how? Our texts, and scores like them in both Jewish and Christian sacred texts, help us know how.

Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid?
I’ve learned your ways, Sovereign One.
I believe that I shall see [your] goodness, Gracious One,
in the land of the living.
Self, be patient. Self, be strong. Self, take courage in the Lord!

“I tell you, my friends,” said Jesus. Friends! “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more.” Recognize that the threat of violence, with the possibility of death that it carries, “for what it is—merely the threat of violence with a death potential.” With that perspective “death cannot possibly be the worst thing in the world. There are some things that are worse than death.”

Verse 5 of our Gospel reading we must hold for another discussion this week because the prospect of hell or God casting someone into it can’t possibly be handled by a sermon in a UCC context. For this morning we are invited to remember that five sparrows were sold for two pennies, yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight!

God counts even the hairs of your head. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your [Heavenly Parent’s] good pleasure to give you her whole realm, his entire dominion!

“In the absence of all hope, ambition dies.” But to know that Creator God, cares for us – cares for me – to know that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus “renders us unconquerable within and without!”

When the time comes to speak truth to power do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt,

When the time comes to speak difficult words to the people of God  And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of them, and do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.

When the time comes to do something that you’ve always been taught was contrary to God’s Law, remember how an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

When you’ve poured out your fears to God in prayer, know assuredly that like Haggar and Zechariah God has heard your prayer, and that you are living the fulfillment of the plan of God.

I wish that we had time this morning to consider every one of the 128 times we hear the admonition to lay aside our fears. Aren’t you glad we have a whole week to consider them together?! Know this morning that taken together, those 128 passages invite us to:

  • Learn to live beyond the war of nerves, keeping perspective on our priorities and values as people of faith
  • Live apart from conditions imposed by an oppressor.
  • Find ways to love while under the threat of violence when the power and the tools of violence are all on one side.
  • Create ways to live outside of the artificial limitations that offer the illusion of safety-restricting freedom of movement, of employment, or speech, and of participation in the common life.
  • Ferreting out even the smallest glimmer of hope fanning those embers into the flames of ambition.

Fear is neither good nor evil; it is [an invitation to risk] that must be read with great care. Cultivating the skill to interpret fear accurately is an essential task in the creation of the well-lived and fully-realized life.

  1. If I do this frightening thing, will it bring real quality and beauty into my life?
  2. If I do this frightening thing, will it move me further toward the fullest expression of my innate potentialities?
  3. Am I respecting my health and life, and the health and life of others?
  4. Is this fear really just a misguided attempt to protect my fragile and limiting self-image?
  5. Is this apprehension and anxiety simply the death-throes of my outmoded ways of acting, thinking and being in the world?
  6. If I took these risks and let go of my old ways of acting, thinking and being in the world, would I be closer to my highest good?
  7. Is the larger purpose of my life the realization of my highest good as opposed to being comfortable?

“If the answer to any of these questions is no, your fear is telling you something important. You should probably listen,” writes Peter Bolland. “But if you can answer yes to even one of these questions, then” remember the words of David to his son, Solomon: “Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you. [God] will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

Communion and My Transgender Experience

by Joe Nutini

A note from the Southwest Conference: This is edgier than our usual posts. It graphically describes an authentic spiritual experience. If that’s not for you, we will see you next time. But didn’t want you to be caught off guard.

 

I knelt down on the red wooden kneeler before the priest. His well adorned robe flowed gently over the railing separating us. He held the body of Christ in his hands. This was a sacred duty. We were to be subservient to the lord who had reportedly sacrificed himself for us. I did not share this story. For me, even as a young teen, the Eucharist was much more than that. I knelt because the cells of my body knew that there was something special, something mystical about the transubstantiation that took place in the communion ceremony. I did not kneel for the priest, I knelt for the mystic Christ who transcended all boundaries.

When the Eucharist touched my tongue, I often had an almost erotic experience. His body, his miracle touching me physically…this was something tangible. I could eat the in-between space that the risen Christ occupied. I felt it in my cells just as I felt my most recent first orgasm. I often experienced signs and visions that I now understand to be communications with the spirit world. When I took communion I did not feel so alien in my body. For a moment, though my gender and physicality did not fit quite right, I was able to overcome this painful conundrum.

Now here we are many years later. I started transitioning about 13 years ago. In that time I have become much more interfaith in my spirituality. I believe in variety of things, many of which could be termed new age.  I practice Buddhism as a way of life. Today I see most religions and spiritual practices as being a part of a large interconnected web. We are experiencing this web in both this world and in the metaphysical plane. My transgender experience has allowed me to see this more clearly and to feel it viscerally. There are no borders or barriers between this world and the next. Just like there are none when it comes to gender. There is only fluidity and change…there is only sacred and mystical blending, bonding, separating, transmuting and impermanence.

Thought I look much more like a man outwardly, I still consider myself a transman.  I am more on the masculine side of the spectrum. Yet, like my experience of Jesus in the Eucharist, I move through the fluidity of gender. There is a flow in my body. An existing in two spaces simultaneously.

There is a certain dharma to my transgender existence. I do not know what it means to be a cisgender man because I was not born one. That is my experience of being a transman. It certainly isn’t everyone’s experience. But for me, the lesson is to be able to occupy a space with which I resonate, even if it does not fit the boxes that society has created. In the 13 years that I have engaged in physical transition, I have not once said I was a man trapped in a woman’s body. I never had that story. I don’t feel a need to have the story to justify the physical changes I’ve made. It is simply what needed to be done. When the time came I knew and felt that it was right. This is a spiritual practice of trusting one’s own intuition and internal guidance system.

I often think back to the days when I was young and practicing Catholicism. The same catholic church that later threatened to excommunicate me if I came out as queer, provided the mystical experiences I needed to fully grow into myself as a transgender person. My body, like Christ’s risen body, occupies a mystical space. It is a physical manifestation of what Buddhists call impermanence. I think we all exist in this state. A state of in-between. A state of a body, a person, a mind, a heart and a soul in flux. I believe transgender people are here to be visible manifestations of this concept. I also believe we are here to help cisgender people move away from the rigidity of gender roles and into a more relaxed way of being.

L’Chaim!

by Karen MacDonald

Have you ever noticed how life insists?  

A trimmed tree branch, or even a cut-down tree, will sprout new branches.  Little flowers will poke through cracks in asphalt on even the most-traveled streets.  People find their way through grief to healing.  Indeed, life has insisted on being for more than 13 billion years, ever since time and space, energy and matter flashed forth in the singular singularity we call the “Big Bang.” Life has continued to emerge in ever-increasing complexity and diversity and beauty.

“I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Choose life….”  (Deuteronomy 30:17, 19)

“So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 
(Romans 6:11)

“”In spite of natural timidity, I have always felt invincible before hostile forces precisely because I have been ‘redeemed.’  This means that I have all of the power I need to face down evil.  I have the power, therefore, to choose life under any circumstances….redemption means that we are freed from the attraction and power of evil, free to choose life-giving options and life-enhancing goals.”
(Sr. Rosie Bertell,  essay included in The Impossible Will Take a Little While, p. 195, emphasis added)

No one can make us do evil,
no one can make us stop loving,
no one can kill our hope.
We have the power to choose life and love.

Former Vice-President Al Gore puts it this way in talking about addressing climate disruption:

“When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is fore-ordained because of who we are as human beings.  We have everything we need.  Some still doubt that we have the will to act.  But I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource.”
(Al Gore in a TEDTalk given 2/25/16, accessed on YouTube 7/18/17)

These trying times are an exhilarating time to be alive, as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. discovered during the trying times in which the civil rights and anti-war movements arose.  There’s so much opportunity all around us to do good, so speak up for what’s right, to reach out in love, to be life.  We have everything we need.  We have the power to choose.

The Creator, creation and our own spirits implore us and cheer us on:

Choose Life!
Be Life!

L’Chaim!

image credit: Karen MacDonald