Most of us think of resilience as the ability to overcome difficulties and persevere. That is true but resilience is more than that: Resilience is the ability to adapt to the change we are experiencing. Jeremy Lent in his book The Patterning Instinct puts it this way:
“The resilience of a system determines whether it can withstand big shocks or is susceptible to collapse from a small disturbance. Resilience can be understood as the capacity of a system to recover from a disturbance. But recovery doesn’t necessarily mean remaining the same; the most resilient systems are often those that are constantly adapting to changes in their environment.”
This is as true for each of us as it is for a planet. The terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the warming of our planet, and the violent weather patterns of the last few years are telling us that we will need to become even more resilient than we already are. Our use of energy and resources cannot continue in this way. Our resilience as human beings will depend on how we adapt to the changing reality. It will depend on how we live our lives and design our spaces. I am confident that we will adjust if there is still time.
As for the planet, so for each of us. How have you changed in response to your environment? I have started to prioritize rest as a spiritual practice: naps, longer meditations, my own blend of tai chi and yoga, waking with the sun rather than a clock. If we are to change our habits as consumers to meet the changing planet, we will need to change how we view time; moving from beyond a perishable resource towards seeing time as a sacred gift.
What is true for us, our planet, and ourselves is true for our congregation. As we change from a congregation that can “do it all” to a congregation that will have to make choices in what we do, we will become deeper and more reflective. I invite us to be less concerned with achieving victories and more concerned with enjoying the time we have. This too is resilience.
As we head into our final week of 30 Days of Love, I invite you to consider what resilience means to you. Let me know what you think. I leave you with this piece from our UU friends at On the Side of Love:
“The earth teaches us the power of resiliency, of regrowth, of emergence. It roots us and moves us. It brings us back to place, back to wonder and gratitude, back to possibility. It is never static. It is always moving. May we be moved too by this co-creative partnership we have with the earth.
“Can you hear the cracking of the ice, the call of the birds in winter’s deep frigidness? Can you feel the realness of the current season, whatever it is for you in your place, and the certainty that another season will soon be upon us? Permanence is not possible. Change is ever among us.
“I pray that we come together to inspire and sustain one another …. That we open our hearts in gratitude and in love …. cared for and guided by the sacred earth we call home.”~ Rev. Terri Burnor, Prayer for Climate Justice https://sidewithlove.org/week-four-february-6-february-12
May it be so, Rev. John