I write this blog post with a heavy heart over the mass-shooting in Las Vegas. It feels as though every day the news is filled with another disaster or act of injustice. It is a struggle. Do we ever get respite from mourning or outrage? The struggles aren’t just in the distance. We also carry hurt in our private lives, from family illnesses, loss, strained relationships, stories that weigh on our hearts that will never appear in the news.
How do we keep from being overwhelmed? We can only bear so much by ourselves. There are times that I need reminders of the good, sources of hope. With this in mind, I’d like to share a few gratitudes as a brief reminder that, even during extreme pain, there are still places of joy.
I am grateful for communities like WES. Places of welcoming, places of justice, place that strive to be open to each other’s pain.
My first time meeting all of you was our Welcome Home Sunday. We staged a small performance enacting welcoming the stranger as a friend. Life imitated art, and I felt welcomed right away. You showed so much warmth and good humor that I felt at home. When introductions involve silly costumes, we’re doing something right.
People need community. We need a place to share our joys and our sorrows with one another. We all need respite; a warm welcome goes a long way to letting people know that they’ve found that place.
I am grateful to be working with our Pastoral Care Associates. Two weeks ago, we attended training for numerous congregations hosted at WES. We learned additional tools to aid us being emotionally present for our members during difficult times. As we struggle with processing the injustices in the world and in our lives, I hope we can all remember this team. When our greater culture denies us places to be vulnerable, I find compassion to be a radical act.
Last Saturday, WES members took to the streets in the March For Black Women and the March For Racial Justice. The two marches converged and provided a hopeful challenge to the status quo. The leadership reflected great diversity. We heard from many faith groups, people of color, undocumented citizens, queer voices, so many people came together for to demand change, to demand justice. The world I long to see was visible in that march. Remembering the power of Saturday helps settle me as I think of today’s pain. Together with broad coalitions, we can make change.
I am especially grateful to my Internship Committee. These six lay leaders will be supporting my service and growth at WES. They have made a significant commitment of time and energy to our community, and I feel it is important to lift them up. Thanks so much to Jen Watson, J.T. Halbert, Kelley Smith, Lydia Fettig, Perry Beider, Trang Duong.
Over the next two years, I hope that we continue welcoming all those that need respite, supporting those carrying hidden hurts, and working to build a more just and inclusive society within and beyond our doors. It is communities like ours that give me hope.
Thank you so much,
Zeb Green, Clergy Intern