Since returning from Liberia I have felt the weight of these things pressing down on my very soul. It is only in recognizing and feeling this profound sadness for the world, that I am able to also experience the profound joy of finding hope alive in the midst of all this.
This summer hope has come to me in many forms, and I want to share some of that hope with you. I have been on two different short-term mission projects with youth and young adults through the Sierra Service Project. One trip was our diocesan youth mission trip to Nevada for a week, where we worked and lived on the Walker River Piute Reservation, repairing houses, and learning something about community, service, and spiritual journeying. As the week progressed, I worried that the youth were somehow missing the experience by being caught up in their caffeine cravings and boredom and heat exhaustion. Finally on the last day I realized that the experience had happened without me doing anything to push it. That community and spiritual growth and commitment to service happened in the midst of caffeine cravings and boredom and heat exhaustion. So many times I feel like I have to move the Spirit, I forget that all I have to do is show up and look. The Spirit was there, in all of it, and that gave me hope!
I just got back from my second mission trip this summer. I went to Honduras for two weeks with a group of young adults. We built (most of) two brick houses for impoverished families in Danli. The days were long, and the work felt back breaking. It is difficult to see hope when you have sore muscles and are surrounded by insatiable need. But I saw hope in the young people in our group. They are very much members of their popular culture and times, and yet they also were willing to sacrifice, to sleep on the floor, to go without running water, to work harder than they had ever worked, and to commit their remaining energy to building relationships with local people and learning about the struggle that is life in Honduras today.
I have found hope in other places this summer too. In Tegucigalpa our group visited an organization that takes in street children. We spent a couple hours there, and it seemed to me that hope was singing out of every wall, every bouncing ball, every footstep, every laugh. The door of this facility struck me as a sacred gate: its very existence gives me hope for the world. There is a door in Tegucigalpa, and any young person who approaches it day or night, will find it open, and behind it is a world of hope, sanctuary, and love. They will find there the Love of God, incarnate, and if they choose they will be transformed by it.
I have found that the reflections Bishop Mary has written to our diocese about her time at Lambeth Conference are full of hope, hope for our diocese, hope for the Anglican Communion, and hope for humanity as we struggle to live in a global community, a global communion, bringing our different truths to the same table.
There is a door in Tegucigalpa, there is a table in Canterbury Cathedral, there are young people stepping out in service, and there is you and me. Flawed as we are, we show up, we come to the door, we come to the table, we step out of our comfort zones, and the Spirit will do the rest.
Peace and Hope,
Bishop Mary’s Reflections: http://www.stlukesatascadero.org/bishop.htm
Casa Alianza (A home for street children in Tegucigalpa, New York, LA, Canada, and Guatamala): http://www.casa-alianza.org/en/news.php
Sierra Service Project (youth mission trips to Native American Reservations, urban LA, and Honduras): http://www.sierraserviceproject.org/