HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE by Rector Chris Girata
HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, Febuary 26, 2021
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
There are thousands of homeless persons in Dallas, and the extreme winter weather made caring for them a great challenge. There are wonderful organizations and individuals who give their time and talent to help support all those who are without homes throughout the year, but when the weather dropped below freezing, those in need of help couldn’t live outside. As emergency shelters were identified as places to house our homeless neighbors, the power grid began to go down all over the city. One of the largest shelters went dark, meaning that those who have found temporary shelter had to move again. Thankfully, we have dedicated people in our city who advocate for those most vulnerable, and hundreds found shelter in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
But when storms hit, we find out just how much we share in common.
I bring up this most recent struggle to highlight how much need there is in our city, and how those of us who struggled through the storms in our homes can use this storm to inspire a deeper generosity and concern for our neighbors in need. In other words, last week was hard for us, but last week put us in touch with what is most important. For most of us, we have more than we need (for most of us, we have way more than we need!). When storms hit, we find out just how little control we have. But when storms hit, we find out just how much we share in common.
Last week, everyone felt vulnerable, and everyone felt scared. That feeling is universal and human. Typically, we have so much agency that we rarely feel out of control. This year, with so much uncertainty, especially the pandemic, we are all far more in touch with our limits. No amount of money can buy toilet paper that doesn’t exist, and no number of political connections can make your house warm when the power is out. We have experienced great equalizers more in the past few months than we have in decades.
Perhaps we can use these experiences to deepen our own humanity.
Before we rush to the hope that we are beyond these painful experiences, naively pining for things to get “back to normal,” perhaps we can use these experiences to deepen our own humanity. There are people all around us who hurt. There are people all around us who need. Sometimes we hurt and sometimes we need. We have the opportunity to dig deep and find a place of peace and generosity in us that we may not have known was there, and in doing so, rise to a new way of being that ushers in a new, much better normal.
One day, hopefully very soon, we will be beyond the hardest limitations of this pandemic. What would it look like in that new normal to not only be sympathetic to the hardship of others, but to be empathetic? How would our community change if we not only acknowledged one another’s struggles, but stepped into our neighbors’ shoes as they walked the hard path? I hope that your hard shell of individualism and pride has been cracked wide enough to allow the pain of the last few weeks to take root. It’s in that shared pain, experienced uniquely by each one of us, that we can find hope for a better future.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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