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Stillness, In the Midst of the Storm

It has been a hard summer, so far. Stories of violence and death have crashed into our national consciousness and our private hearts nearly every week so far. The tension in our political system is more intense, more extreme, more full of anger and of fear – that is not just your imagination, or mine. It is a painful reality, one amongst too many in these hot and troubled days.

In the midst of a crisis – and surely, friends, we have been in one after another, lately – it is natural and understandable to want for that crisis simply to disappear. For whatever is dangerous or frightening or disturbing to depart – and if it won’t, the desire shifts just slightly, and we begin to yearn for escape. In dangerous times, this is all-too-often the meaning behind a call for peace – in the public square, or in our own homes. It’s a peace that simply the absence of tension. That sort of peace can be arrived at simply by ignoring a problem, sweeping it aside, or justifying some new or greater wrong in order to do away with whatever has disturbed the hollow peace. It’s tempting to rush to respite, but there’s no real solace there. Suffering is a part of life – to flee from the suffering of others won’t take us any further from our own.

Instead of choosing flight, or the wishing away of our fears, I would propose we need to practice being still. I don’t mean still, in the sense of inactive. I mean still, in the sense of not reacting. What is needed in this age, like every other, is the determination to resist the currents of calamity, to face the world as it is, beautiful and wounded, and to choose to act out of wonder at that beauty, to dress those wounds. To be still, in the middle of the storm, seems a heroic impossibility, but consider:

A chalice is a container.

In our faith, it holds a flame.

A flame that spurs the tongues of prophets,

That flashes with the light of truth,

That melts the sheath of ice around the heart.

Though the fire we light each Sunday is little,

The flame behind it is impossibly vast.

And yet, our chalice is big enough to hold it all.

Your heart, also, is big enough to hold it all. Or it least it can be, in cooperation with a great many other hearts. As I begin my seventh year as your minister, I know that my heart alone is not sufficient to the challenge of the world we share. It is the greatest mercy of life that we are all on earth with each other, at the same time. Strengthening and challenging and emboldening one another. We come together to find a stillness, to hold and carry it, and to move forward with it in the direction of an earth more fair. This summer now, like in every other season, our work continues.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson


First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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