Facing Troubles Together

A Weekly Reflection, Sunday, November 19, 2017

By: Weezie Blanchard, Rector

One of my most cherished activities is my book group. There are nine of us, and I’m amazed at the bonds that we’ve formed over the three years that we’ve gathered monthly. The books that we’ve read have been catalysts for deep discussions about important issues of our day – those writs large, like race and relationships and religion, and those that affect us more intimately in our roles as daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, ex-wives, and widows.

Our latest book, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, is based on an actual visit Abraham Lincoln made in 1862 to the cemetery where his 11-year-old son Willie had just been buried. The book is narrated by a chorus of souls who can’t quite let go of the lives they’ve lost as they watch Lincoln grieve the death of his precious son amidst the grief of a nation torn apart by war. At one point Saunders’ Lincoln poignantly realizes “that whatever way one took in this world, one must try to remember that all were suffering (none content; all wronged, neglected, overlooked, misunderstood), and therefore one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact.” One of the many gifts of my book group is that I do not have to reflect on the sober truth of those words alone.

Paul has a similar message to the Thessalonians in today’s lesson. His grim warning of sudden destruction is lightened by his encouragement that faith and love will be our salvation and that we must encourage and build each other up. One of the many gifts of our St. Mary’s community is that we do that for each other. The richness of who we are and who we aim to be as followers of Jesus transforms each of us. There is no burden, disappointment, or sorrow that any of us must bear alone, and the troubles of the wider world are less threatening when we face them together. Thankfully, our common bonds amplify our joys, as well. What blessings to contemplate as we head into the holiday season!