Standing at The Gates of Hope

October 2017

When we first started writing this newsletter 5 years ago, Hurricane Sandy had just devastated New York and New Jersey.  In the span between then and now, we’ve seen many global tragedies–the Pulse shootings, Manchester, Charlottesville, Paris, Harvey, the refugee crisis, threats of nuclear war, violent political extremism, wildfires and earthquakes.  And we in the aftermath of the Las Vegas Massacre while Puerto Rico is still reeling from Hurricane Irma and the ongoing rains that continue to hit the island.
 
When faced with writing this month’s update, an activity we usually approach with gusto, we found ourselves somewhat at a loss for words.  It was difficult to muster up anything that felt like it would be useful in the face of this kind of devastation.  We might talk about resilience and the power of the human spirit to survive during tremendous hardship, but doing so from the comfort of a perch that was both dry and safe seemed like an affront.
 
Rather than waxing philosophical, we decided instead to share some thoughts from Reverend Victoria Safford’s essay “The Small Work in the Great Work” in The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times.
 
Standing at Our Gates of Hope
We stand where we will stand, on little plots of ground, where we are maybe “called” to stand (though who knows what that means?) – in our congregations, classrooms, offices, factories, in fields of lettuces and apricots, in hospitals, in prisons (on both sides, at various times, of the gates), in streets, in community groups. And it is sacred ground if we would honor it, if we would bring to it a blessing of sacrifice and risk…
 
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 (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes 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 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.
 
For our part, we plant ourselves at the Gates of Hope by continuing our work with others and trying to find ways that we can effect positive change despite feeling discouraged.  One small way we did so was to provide some support to the people of Puerto Rico and to survivors in Las Vegas.  We include a couple of charities if you would like to participate too.  The Red Cross for Hurricane Irma, Unicef, and The Las Vegas Victims’ Fund.
 
We thought the most fitting handout this month would be the longer version Increasing Wellbeing because it is as much about dealing with hardship as anything.  If you have any thoughts about how you cope and what you see as you “glimpse at the struggle”, please share them with us and our readers here on our facebook page.      
Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia
 
Art Directive
Image that you are standing at the gates of hope-what do they look like to you?  Are they open, and if so, what do you see?  Write about or use markers, paints, or pastels to capture what came to your mind when you saw those gates. We’d also love to have you post whatever you come up with on our 
facebook page.