Hope That Goes Deeper Than Cheer

A Note From Rev. Nancy for the week of March 15, 2024

Growing up in Texas when I did, I was taught that cheerfulness held enormous value. In fact, as a young girl eager for friends and eventually sweethearts, I got the message that to be “attractive” I pretty much had to be cheerful (or appear to be cheerful) all the frigging time.

For crying out loud! What a limited experience of life this social code could lead to, even if a human being could muster up the energy—and the denial—to be cheery most every day!

You can bet I’ve had to excavate that childhood message in order to feel the full range of life’s joys and sorrows and to cherish the authenticity that lets us grow really close to each other. I can say now, with more compassion: Bless everybody’s hearts for essentially wanting us all to be happy. But we become wiser about what true happiness is when we look with clear eyes at the straitjackets the overriding culture tries to cram us into and choose a more liberating and truthful path.

These memories are coming back to me now because it feels more important than ever to distinguish between a cheerful kind of optimism that everything will turn out OK and the harder-won hope that comes with being honest about this moment we’re in and finding our way to engage, make a difference, and live with Love at the center every day that we can. Not, you’ll notice, “all the frigging time,” but simply every day that we humanly can.

I’m excited about the journey of transformation we’ll take with our worship service this Sunday. We’ll give some space for our tender hearts to feel their resistance to still more change. And we’ll remember that we’re never alone as we continue to evolve through challenging and cheerful times alike. “Everything must change,” sings Oleta Adams in the song that plays a big part in this service. Yet “somethings”—experiences, wisdom, ideas, feelings that lie at the very core, the very root of our lives and of this faith—somethings in this life we can be sure of. Come, let’s revisit them together!

With Love at the center,
Rev. Nancy