“Praise the Lord from the heavens…praise God, sun and moon, praise God, all you shining stars!...Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters…mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds…Praise the Lord!
Do you remember the morning of 9/11, how blue the sky was, with hardly a cloud in it? It was a perfect September morning; I was 10 days away from moving out of my parents’ home and into my adult life and the world felt full of possibility. The juxtaposition of such pain and beauty, such suffering and hope was, and still is, so disorienting.
I thought of that again this past Friday morning, as another day dawned with a beautiful blue sky, even as the details of another terrorist attack unfolded and another death toll rose. I thought of it on Saturday as I picked plump blueberries to the sound of chirping birds, even as police in my town responded to an armed man who had barricaded himself in his home. I thought of this on Sunday as I planted flowers and heard news of another mass shooting of police officers.
Such senseless beauty and senseless violence all at once.
What are we to do with that?
Surrender to it.
That’s what I was reminded of by Susan Beaumont, an Alban Institute author and consultant for congregations, at a conference on leadership that I attended last week. She said that in liminal times, such as we find ourselves in today, leaders must shift their stance from knowing, advocating and striving to unknowing, attending and surrender.
To surrender is not to give up. Instead, it is a radical acceptance of what is. When we acknowledge and welcome reality, we can be fully open to receiving God’s love, being guided by the Holy Spirit and living as Christ showed us.
Last week, I urged us to not be afraid to look at the world as it is. I offer the same word this week. However, look not only at the pain and suffering, the threats and horrors. Look at the beauty and joy, the possibilities and gifts too. Surrender to the delight of a small child eating a big ice cream cone. Surrender to live music, a good book, an easier commute. Surrender to the goodness that greets you in the people you meet. On vacation or your own backyard, surrender to God’s splendor displayed in summer’s natural glory. Surrender to everything this world has to offer because God is
Prayer: Praise you, O God, for the beauty of summer days and for the gift of your love and mercy poured out in these troubling times. May we surrender to it all. Amen.