Dear St. Brendanites:
As we said Sunday, “Pittsburgh wakes this morning a new city--changed forever. God, however, has not changed!” The first part above seems undeniable and very real to most of us; the second part may feel a bit “iffy” though. Some may be thinking, “I wonder how God can let this happen.” Some might simply question whether God cares or exists. Others tend to become more reliant on God at times like this. Still others remain neutral at best. The first thing I’d like to say is that, wherever you are, God can handle it. It's OK. Faith ebbs and flows. This is why community is so important. There is always someone up when we are down, and there are others taking action when we seem unable to do so. We get by with a “little help from our friends.” It’s important during these times to remind each other that light and darkness have coexisted for centuries.
I attended a meeting early Tuesday morning. As three of us were reflecting on these events, one of the group reminded us that from all time “light and darkness coexisted.” This is nothing new and we made it through. Another went further and observed that when the two do interact, they do not interact equally. When you are in the light, you might notice darkness but you quickly lose track of it. It takes conscious effort to stay focused on it because there is always a nicer thing that is lit up waiting to grab our attention. On the other hand, when we are in darkness even the slightest ray of light makes a supreme, lasting difference. Ever experienced how the slightest break in your window shade in the morning makes a dot of light so huge that continued sleep becomes next to impossible?
Might this notion be a healthy way to navigate the confusion we are now experiencing? I have seen people really reaching out (signs of light). I’ve gotten more calls, texts and emails around the events of last Saturday than around any other issue to date. I have also seen you all talking with each other about this anti-semitic attack and the aftershock. (More light!) In the Episcopal Church, we often hear this sentence repeated: “As long as we are talking to each other, things will be well.” So keep talking, keep sharing, and keep letting others know how you are seeing things when you are going to marches and attending memorial services. Let us know what God is putting on your heart and what you’re doing about it. Invite others into what you’re doing.
A piece of sage advice was given to me years ago when things were tumultuous in my life: “Don’t wait to think your way into new action; Act your way into new thinking.” A huge act of darkness came our way last Saturday. It wants to envelope us. Your reaching out and talking, your presence at rallies and memorials, your donations to help, your calls to Jewish acquaintances, friends, relatives just to let them know you are thinking about them, and your intentional attempts to better understand organizations like HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Aid Society) are all dots of light that dispel darkness and hate.
(Pittsburghers gather outside the Sixth Presbyterian Church for a vigil on Saturday, 10/27/2018).
Know that St. Brendan’s has a team of clergy listeners who love St. Brendan’s and are eager to be present to you. In addition to me, the Reverends Moni McIntyre, Rodge Wood, and Bill Pugliese are all available if you need to talk to someone. You don’t have to have major issues to contact one of us. Please consider us as among those with whom you get by with “little help from your friends.”
All good to you,