Board messages will return in September, 2022.
Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme. The theme for June is Celebrating Blessings This month’s post is offered by Shelley Buss.
“We can’t sit in numbness alone, thinking we don’t have power. We all have power.”
The theme for this month is Celebrating Blessings, which I thought would be a happy, joyful kind of article when I committed to it long ago, but I’ve rewritten this at least 4 times since we find ourselves reeling from more gun violence. The media bombards us with timelines, opinions and accusations, as if more and more data and story angles can somehow help us make sense of something we can’t possibly make sense of.
Seeing the raw anguish of the families rips at my heart and I literally feel my body recoiling from the emotion. I cry for them and the loss that will weave into every story and remaining chapter of their lives. It’s just too much. So much senseless loss of life continuing from guns, physical violence, racism, war, the pandemic, and lies. How many more of these “straw that broke the camel’s back” scenarios do we need to face before meaningful change occurs? It makes me question how society has gotten so broken and extreme. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs popped into my head, and it’s pretty eye-opening when you consider a snapshot of today:
Level 1- Physiological needs. Air, food, water, shelter, clothing and sleep.
Level 2- Safety needs. Personal safety, employment, resources, health and property.
Level 3- Love and Belonging. Friendship, family, intimacy, sense of connection.
Level 4- Self-esteem. Confidence, achievement, respect of others, being a unique individual.
Level 5- Self- Actualization. Morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance, purpose, meaning and potential.
Levels 1 and 2 are basics. So many people are not getting these needs met. Those who’ve lost love ones. Lost jobs, lost homes. Kids who are afraid to go to school, people afraid to go to the grocery store, church or a shopping mall. With senseless war on the other side of the world and ourselves having survived an insurrection, do we even know what “normal” feels like anymore?
Moving up, how many families and friendships are fractured because of political and scientific differences? How has technology and social media disconnected everyone physically, especially our youth? How many people are too weary and worn down to put effort into dealing with others let alone personal growth, creative ventures, or experimenting with and supporting their spiritual self, especially when our foundations are weakened?
For as negative as all that sounds, we, my friends, have an edge. We have a community of like minded individuals who seek to turn words into action, pain into progress. Our actions can be outward or inward, big or small. There is unlimited power in ‘many’; of encouraging each other, sharing the load, taking accountability, celebrating and commiserating. We can’t sit in numbness alone, thinking we don’t have power. We all have power.
It reminds me of Jennifer’s Dragon puppet during the bridging ceremony service. That Dragon was the monkey everyone of us has had on our back when he was filling Squeak’s head with doubt and fear about next steps. Who else was thinking “shut your pie hole Dragon!”? It was like Squeaks was on the edge of a diving board. Move forward? Go back? We all need to ask ourselves that question. Do I take that leap of faith in myself and others?
I believe every single one of us has the ability to impact the world. We’re already doing it every single day- rebuilding connections. When we hold a door open for someone, or give a smile, maybe crack a joke with the Target cashier. When we call a friend to say, “Hey, I was just thinking of you.” We don’t need to solve everything or be everything. We just need to be ourselves and keep moving forward; trusting that we have the spark, the creativity, and the ability within to face whatever life throws at us and live our lives on our own terms. Life doesn’t come with an a la carte menu. You can’t just take the good stuff. Everyone has a bowl of lima beans in their future (my apologies to lima bean lovers). Our cup of joy is only as deep as our cup of sorrow.
These have definitely been dark days that have pushed our hearts to the limit. We need to honor our sorrows by grieving fully on our own schedule, and when we’re ready, find a way to convert the energy from our pain and suffering into blessings for ourselves and others. Yes, life knocks us backwards, and maybe part of our purpose is to use it to propel ourselves further ahead by repurposing the grief and anger into something that changes our world or that of those around us.
We are not alone. Find your people. Be in community. Share your feelings and thoughts. Build out ideas together and see the blessings grow. Step out and take that leap of faith.
— Shelley Buss
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees