Courage to Change
Barbara Howard of Independence, MO, USA
Reprinted from Journey of Joy, Herald House, 1990
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?”…He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? -Micah 6:6-8
I have a friend who lives in constant danger in a small Central American country. He and the villagers where he lives are caught in the crossfire of armies. He described the care with which one of the village women kept her garden. “The garden could be ravaged by Jeeps or soldiers at any time, but she faithfully plants her vegetables, collects rainwater, cares for the tender seedlings. I watch her diligence in amazement. It is as though the garden is her statement of faith. I have never known courage like I have seen here.” People live each day in thanksgiving for life, family, and food, fully aware that the next day these may all be gone.
Lynne works as a peace activist. She has participated in several demonstrations and has been imprisoned at times for civil disobedience. Lynne finds courage in remembering the imprisonment of Christians, including early church leaders. Prison is difficult, but lacking the courage of conviction is unthinkable. She gains strength from the community of courageous women and men who risked in the past and her sisters and brothers who share her struggle today. Lynne’s letters from prison carry an amazing spirit of joy. “There is much ministry to be done here,” she wrote.
Some acts of courage seem incomprehensible-the risks beyond belief. Yet in each decision there is the promise of joy. Jesus’ commitment to life and ultimate crucifixion contained the seeds of resurrection-joy. Courage is the willingness to face each day wearing the armor of hope and conviction against life’s onslaughts. Like the rain’s dependable refreshment and cleansing, joy overflows in moments of courage. It restores us to face a new day.
“Your mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23, adapted).
Ordinary Time is a season for noticing the details of life that make up its substance. This month, we invite you to pay attention with each fresh morning to the gift of being alive. Before getting out of bed, take a few deep breaths and notice what it feels like to wake up in your own body. Engage the tasks of your unfolding day with reverence-brushing your teeth, making the bed, pouring the coffee, tending the kids, feeding the animals, making breakfast, etc. Notice the presence of the Holy in every ordinary thing. Embrace your daily routines with sacramental significance. Notice how long you can do this before your attention is taken away, and commit to returning to this simple awareness as gently and often as you can.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.