Pastoral Pause – November 29, 2022, from Rev. Alice Diebel

Part of coming through the other side of the pandemic is that it provides an opportunity for introspection. Part of what I said on Sunday was that a practice of gratitude can help build greater harmony in our lives. Gratitude can reduce anxiety and fear just by paying attention to something other than pain and injustice, not that they should be ignored.

You shared with each other what has been hard for you this year and what you’re grateful for. I hope you can see how strongly community support comes through.

I did my best to recreate the words you shared with each other. The little pieces of paper you filled out got mixed up, so it isn’t exactly the same, but your words have not changed – only their order changed. What do you hear in your words?

Here’s what you wrote.

This year has been hard because:

  • Trying to figure out what has changed, been lost or gained, how to deal with everyone else’s fears and caution.
  • My brother is ill.
  • We have been unable to spend time with our grandchildren.
  • We can’t travel.
  • Someone I love is still well and happy but I will no longer see them regularly.
  • Family refusing medical treatments.
  • Of fears for our country’s political divisions.
  • Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Life challenges.
  • Life is messy and confusing.
  • There has been anger and estrangement within my family of origin.
  • Of the pandemic.
  • I feel disconnected from others.
  • My partnership of 7 years, within which I planned to become a parent, ended; so I’m doing the work of finding me.
  • Restarting a church after a pandemic is difficult.
  • I don’t have the energy I used to have for work.
  • Of conflict with my adult son.
  • This year has been hard because I am applying to graduate school and am stressed about my future.

Still, I’m grateful for:

  • Family and friends and for people who work for justice.
  • My family has survived some tough times and is on the other side.
  • Support and family.
  • Good health, balanced mind, cold beer.
  • Friends and family.
  • For another [year] with Rich.
  • Community, music, friends, St. John’s, starting a new job.
  • My friends at St. John’s and Tristole Dharma.
  • My marriage, my children, my parents, my family and my friends.
  • Wonderful friends and good health.
  • Trees, flowers, art and family.
  • My husband who always has my back.
  • Friends and family and my good health.
  • My support system during the hardest year due to a loss in the family.
  • My wife having a healthy issue-free pregnancy. Her and our unborn child are healthy and well.
  • The love of family, friends and our community.
  • So much love in my life.
  • My girlfriend.
  • Being able to foster and visit kittens and cats.
  • Family, friends, love and hope.
  • Family, friends and St. John’s.
  • Being here with friends.
  • My friends at St. John’s.
  • Stable health.
  • I’m grateful for church community that lifts me up when I’m down.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue education as well as my loved ones that provide support.
  •  For my beautiful cats, Lottie and Macie.
  •  For the folks who are supporting one another in EarthSpirit.
  • All the people in my life.