Storytelling is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary…The storyteller is the truth-teller… We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.
-Ursula K. Le Guin
How is your spirit these days? Is the springtime birthing new energy and creativity? Are the struggles of pandemic life still oppressing your spirit? What stories will you tell about living through this past year? Has our future been dramatically altered? One of our board members recently commented that she believed that we’ve all been transformed by this period and we’re going to emerge from it with great empathy for each other and with a bold new hope for our future. She assured us that dramatic progressive change is on the horizon. I was inspired by her perspective. How can humanity not be changed for the better by all that we’ve been through? When else in all of history has the population of the entire planet had to endure something like this together?
Together, we’ve all experienced a rare event that could be the foundation of so much progressive change in our world. The inadequacies of our healthcare system, neglect and exploitation of the working classes, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color) communities, and the need for a scientifically literate society all became apparent to everyone this past year. We learned that the government has a critical role to play in ensuring the welfare of society and that global interdependence is required in our modern world. How will these experiences inform how we emerge from the pandemic? In the months before us, what future will we write for ourselves and our community?
Our spiritual theme for congregational exploration this month is Story. Each month, theme-based ministry invites the entire congregation to reflect upon universal themes of religious life in creative ways. Story can be broadly defined as an account of real or fictitious persons and events. Stories are how we make meaning of existence and pass that meaning on to others.
We all have stories that we tell ourselves–some that are real and some that we imagine to be real–about ourselves, our families, our relationships, our church community, our society, and even our place in the universe. Becoming conscious of our stories can help us free ourselves from stories that have outlived their usefulness or which were never useful in the first place! When we are aware of the stories that permeate our lives, we can better fashion the narratives of our futures.
I hope that you might take some time this month to reflect on this theme in church group meetings–theme-based questions make great check-in questions–or through other activities and events in the life of the congregation. Our partners at Soul Matters suggest a few questions to help deepen our reflections: What story did you first fall in love with? When did you first feel like you understood your plot line? What story about yourself have you outgrown, but others are still telling about you? What genre is your current life’s story?
Please remember that you’re not alone. Although these times are difficult for all of us, you have a community that cares about you and is here if you need spiritual support. Our Pastoral Associates and Care Ring members are available to provide short-term spiritual companionship or other forms of support if you are in need. You can confidentially request pastoral support — or submit any joys, sorrows, or milestones for inclusion in community news and our Sunday worship services — by emailing our pastoral team leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s continue to care for each other and grow beloved community in these final months of the pandemic and let’s dream together of a bright future for all!
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae