Soul Matters at Tree of Life – Being a Community of Resilience

It’s always such a miracle to witness the resilience of Life as it manifests in the natural world  — emperor penguins tending their eggs through the Antarctic winter, flowers growing out of rock faces, and monarch butterflies that migrate for 3000 miles.  We too are a part of the natural world and Life imbues us also with the resourcefulness and insight to nurture our resilience. 

Personally, I consider myself to be a pretty resilient person and I often have faced adversity with a “grin and bear it” strategy…. Bearing up,  soldiering on…. They sound like such a resilient way to pass through an ordeal.   However it now seems, from a more “mature” perspective, that such a strategy was usually creating more challenges than being helpful.  When I use “bearing up” as my default mode for handling difficulty, I can end up not looking with clarity for what might soften the problems at hand.  …. If I’m not looking, it’s less likely I’ll be creative in working on a solution…. and more likely I’ll fail to see a solution even if it sits in front my nose.

In the natural world, Life finds all manner of creative solutions for meeting adversity.  Adaptive evolution is one strategy but there is an endless display of cooperative and complementary forces  — muskoxen tightly gathered to fend off predators, emperor penguins clustered in rotation to withstand the cold…  Being in community is a powerful state for finding nurturing, sustenance, and loving support that buoy us up and help us to “see through” our challenging circumstances… Community reminds us that cooperation can be an effective part of our resilience. 

“[Resilience] is to watch a gathering darkness until all light is swallowed up completely without the power to interfere or bring a halt.  Then in that darkness, to continue one’s journey with one’s footsteps guided by the illumination of remembered radiance.”   Howard Thurman

The February Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning and possibilities of “resilience” –  to reflect on how we can experience it in our lives and how it is a part of sharing in community.   We use this theme for worship and for faith formation in our RE program and chalice circles.  The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here  If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take one from those available in the fellowship room or ask for a copy, if they’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about signing up for a circle here and there are also flyers in the fellowship room.

Wishing you joy in community,

M. E. Tanabe

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