Are you an optimist or a pessimist? As we enter another year, do you find yourself hopeful or anxious? I know that I experience both hope and anxiety in various combinations these days, depending on my mood, my energy, and what is happening around me on any given day. Although I know based on excellent evidence that the world holds both amazing resources for good and a great power for destruction, sometimes the balance between the constructive and destructive forces can seem a bit tenuous. And sometimes I just wonder.
Of course, unless we have created a vacuum, the glass is always completely full of something; we just forget to pay attention to what is in both halves rather than just one! And so I think the real question that lies before us, as we create our resolutions and make a new start in the dawning of another year, is how best to use what is in the glass – how to maximize all the resources we have at our disposal, rather than worrying about whether we have enough. In my experience, there are almost always more resources to work with than I see at first glance; and if I am intentional and open-minded about it, there is often a way to generate more of whatever we need, sometimes in unexpected ways.
As a professional in our liberal faith tradition, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the opportunities for action that present themselves each day. In these recent weeks there are so many calls for advocacy, so many invitations to show up for justice and human dignity, that I can begin to feel inadequate to the task. Perhaps others share that experience. So perhaps this start of a new year is a good time for us all to take a breath and consider the work to which we are called, the work to which we commit as people of faith, with whatever is in our glass and however much of it there is.
Because I do believe that each of has some work to do in our lifetime, work that is inspired by our deepest beliefs and values, and that can take a different form for each of us, and a different form at various stages of our lives. Our work may be to nurture, to heal, to teach; to create beauty, to spend, or to conserve; to befriend, to administer, or even just to be the best person we know how to be. Our work may include showing up at rallies or cultivating a garden; writing speeches or holding silence; it may be in partnership or alone, and it might be evident to others or invisible to all except ourselves. The exact nature of the work does not matter.
What matters is that we do that work of our hearts with integrity and compassion, and to the best of our own unique ability. And perhaps what matters even more is that we know we are enough, and that what we do in our own way makes a difference in this troubled and tumultuous world. And that we make the best use of whatever is in the glass, however much of it there might be.
And so my wish for all of us in this blessed community in the dawning of the New Year is that we find fulfillment as we dig deep into the work to which we are called; that we find ever new ways to work together and make a difference; and that we know we are enough. It is my deep pleasure to join you in this beautiful work, and as always, I look forward to seeing you in church!