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Hope Here

By Rev. Joan Kessler

Luke 21:25-36

During my time away last week, quite by accident, I found a book that I have a hard time putting down. It is called In the Shelter, written by Irish theologian and poet, Padraig O’Tuama. Padraig is the former director of the Corrymeela community in Ireland, an organization founded back in 1965 to aid in the work of reconciliation during and following the Troubles of the Northern Ireland conflict. In the Shelter asks the profound question of how do we say hello to here? How do we accept the realities of our situations in a time when reality can feel very harsh indeed. In other words, how do we live in our own skins? How do we guard against indifference, numbness, and fear? And right in the opening chapter, Padraig describes this beautiful challenge. He writes,

Much of our desire to not name a place, because we fear that in naming it, we are giving it power, and by giving it power, we are saying we may not escape. It’s a valid fear. There are some suburbs of hell we wish we’d never visited….To name something can be to call it into being, ... and we do not wish to call certain things into any kind of being.

So I have been thinking about the places I call here...and I recall a particular moment in time the other week when I went to the grocery store and stood before emptied milk coolers and produce shelves...and I asked myself, what am I doing here? It was a very unyielding and almost surreal feeling….this is not right….maybe you know what I’m