“People should realize that it is always possible to preserve one’s ideals and one’s backbone; that one can stand up to lies; that there are values worth struggling for…and that no political defeat justifies complete historical skepticism as long as the victims manage to bear their defeat with dignity.”
-Vaclav Havel, addressing both Houses of Congress, in a speech he wrote.
Are you unable to watch the news these days? Or do you despair after watching ten minutes so that your spirit sags and you sigh very deeply? It’s an enervating moment in history, not unlike the early 50s, Joe McCarthy and the public square collapsing as a safe place for the exchange of views, our hallmark as Americans. Havel’s words are no less useful in this moment in history as it feels like the American republic fragments around us into tribalisms incapable of collaboration.
So what do we do? How to respond? Retreat and paralysis? We can do better than that. If it feels like the Evil One gets the upper hand these days, strike back with random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty as a form of protest.
Last Sunday Lauren Swenson reminded us how we can strike a blow for human dignity as we build homes with the working poor on Saturday (Habitat for Humanity), cast our lot with struggling immigrants by providing them dinner on Oct. 19 (Building One Community), or participate in a grass-roots initiative to feed children in indigent countries the weekend of Oct 20 (Feed My Starving Children)
Guess what? This Sunday our own intrepid youth work trippers tell their story at our 8:30 and 10 am worship. Right now, they need to tell their story, and we need to hear all about it. As our 13 youth and 3 adults departed at 5:00 am June 30 for Virginia Beach, they were asked to guess what their acronym GRIT could mean.
Well, they were gritty from the dirt and sweat of 90 degree days rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Houses were painted, trailers were skirted, and wheelchair ramps were built. They also had sandy grit between their toes from a half day spent bonding with each other on the famous beaches.
Spiritual grit came into play during devotions exploring themes of courage, trust, love, forgiveness, and surrendering, through Peter the Apostle’s story. We’ll hear about their probing search for meaning at Sunday’s Youth Mission Trip services.
This year’s trip found over 400 work campers from 16 churches representing 18 states coming together for a week of hard work — both spiritually and physically. Since returning, the GRIT theme seems to have stuck. Finished guessing? GRIT means: Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity. Havel could not have said it better