My days are quite good, calm, content and pleasant. By the world’s standards, I have no reason to complain. I am blessed beyond measure. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
I read all morning. write all afternoon and paint almost every evening. I see a few friends for a meal, visit with family, chat over coffee & a sweet roll. I preach now and then. I take long lazy drives in the country. I eat good soups at rural diners.
I am retired but busy enough. I never wanted a busy blur of a retirement. I longed for quiet days of pondering and reflecting and chasing beauty around with a camera or a brush. I despise small talk, and only enjoy conversations of some substance.
I sleep well - though off and on; I nap a lot. I take short walks and swim now and then. I watch many movies, devour novels and devotional books, and savor good stories whenever or wherever I can hear them.
My faith is shockingly firm and stable. I find Jesus to be a wonderful myth, story and metaphor, which frequently offers me meaning, value and genuine hope. I find other religions fascinating as well, and relish the rich diversity of Life and the Earth and Creation as a whole. I especially adore the slow meandering of the seasonal shifts.
So, why am I so frequently sad?
Sadness is like a drone on the horizon, swooping, threatening to strike. I seem to be too functional, too creative and productive for a diagnosis of depression, yet, there is no denying the reality of my sadness on many days.
My sadness is a patchwork quilt of a kind. There is no one single thing making me sad. It’s more a constellation of disappointments, worries, fears and losses which have formed a dark cloud which sits in front of my sun.
Nearing seventy, you begin to notice all the deaths. Suddenly, anyone dying in their sixties seems to be ridiculously young for such a fate. I have lost my two closest friends to cancer, the contemporary plague, and both were in their early sixties.
I have been brutally disappointed by the Church which I have sought to serve for over four decades. Their silence on several social, political and environmental issues is appalling, with way too much effort spent playing it safe, often walking away from the gospel message of Jesus. All talk, offering simplistic answers to vastly complex questions, ignoring good doubt and rejecting change, being run by cliques of “first class” parishioners while the “second class” receives leftovers, getting involved in petty pathetic squabbles which are beneath the dignity of our calling… This is what The Church seems to have come to today.
My calling was to preach good news to the poor, not to further comfort those already way too comfortable. Can you name one thing you’ve learned from the Church recently which even remotely resembles good news to the poor, or the celebration of equality and diversity, or the belief the first will be last?
I was moved to tears by the courage of those Florida teens, having survived a massacre at their school, and were trying to rally adults to act like grown-ups, and calling for leaders to say enough is enough. American children at a march to SAVE LIVES – how truly absurd and tragic is that?
Still, my sadness is real and substantial and swarms at will.
The thread which runs throughout my patchwork quilt and knits it together is the hit our hope has taken in recent years. Hope should be shouted from the roof tops, yet seems to be mute. Hope is a verb but now seems more an idle noun, marching in place in quicksand. Hope is all about WE in a culture which is all about ME. Hope is full of mercy at a time when America is literally soaked in mean spirited division. Hope is a matter of courage and creativity in a nation of people who seem far more concerned with a good life which has little to do with goodness.
My sadness reflects this loss of hope. My sadness is a deep yearning for real spiritual and political leadership; a longing for a fresh vision and voice; and a passionate desire to be nation and people who can build the Kingdom of God on this good earth in this good time. As a Christian, I am called to bring Heaven to earth. This is my belief, faith, and hope.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” This too is my hope. This too is a real definition of greatness. We can’t make America great without hope.
I seek to know hope intimately again. I want my chest swollen with hope, not sadness. I want to help move us up to higher ground. I’m certain our current spiritual condition is indeed the bottom.
We must look up. We must be on our knees long enough to understand what real greatness is truly about. We can crawl our way out of this hole. We can quit digging. We can knock down the walls of hate and division. We can walk the walk. We can take strides in the direction of peace and understanding. We can celebrate all of God’s children, each and every one. We can abandon our beliefs in hell, or our crazy actions which create it on earth.
It is time for hope; a heavenly hope for us all; a hope which will free us to smile again with sweet satisfaction. We need to be God’s beloved children and build a Kingdom of peace and justice and equality, and we need to do so for everyone, everywhere, and for all time – eternity.
Hope is a choice we’re capable of. It will make all the difference in the world. It will also provide us with lives which seldom have time to worry or fret or dwell in sadness. We will have a Kingdom to build. We will be too busy enjoying our lives and our neighbors and our earth and being and our chance to share Creation with our God – however we understand God.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.