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Hold fast to the good

a reflection from Rev. Hayley O'Connor
our Associate for Youth and Families

One of our church members recently shared a story with me about her granddaughter, who has hydrocephalus. Only a college-aged student, she has already had multiple brain surgeries. Her granddaughter’s most recent to visit to the hospital was fraught with unforeseen complications, and it was unclear how or even if they would be able to move forward.

There are many details this member could have offered. Often conversations like this focus on medical treatment, drugs being used, or specialists being consulted. She could have also talked about how unfair it is that her granddaughter is suffering so much and has done nothing to cause or deserve it.

Instead, this member spoke at length about gratitude. Gratitude for the doctors and nurses and the meticulous care that her granddaughter was being given. Gratitude for her granddaughter’s boyfriend (her first ever!), who has had his own journey with surgeries and procedures and is able to relate to her granddaughter in a way that no one else can.

This member’s decision to focus on gratitude, in the midst of such an uncertain and impossible situation, has inspired me to do the same.

It’s far too easy right now to dwell on the negative, obsessing over statistics & numbers, and falling into the rabbit hole of worst-case scenarios. It takes much more effort to find things for which we are grateful. But it is precisely these things that will sustain us in the midst of such difficult times. 

Instead of worshiping in our sanctuary on Sunday, our family celebrated God’s creation by going for a walk at Loanataka. Ten minutes in, I felt hampered by helmets and scooters and a cacophony of cries for “SNACK!” But then Maisie, our 3 year-old daughter, stopped suddenly on her scooter and asked everyone to do the same. “Do you hear that?” she whispered.  “Hear what?” I asked exasperated at yet another stop. “The leaves blowing in the wind!” she said with a huge grin.

In Thessalonians, Paul implores us to, “hold fast to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Think about the small, seemingly insignificant things that are sustaining you in this difficult time. A phone call from a childhood friend. Extra time to bake or to pick up that book you’ve been desperate to read. A walk with your dog in the spring-like weather. The early release of Frozen II on Disney+!

Please know that we are praying for you and your loved ones as you navigate this new, and rapidly changing world/situation/context/reality. While we are not gathering together in person, our prayer is that the church can continue to be a source of hope, strength, and support both for our congregation and our community.

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