May 7, 2020
I’m old enough to remember life before Common Core math. When I was learning to add and subtract, it was all about carrying the 1 and adding columns from right to left. Well, at least that’s what they tried to teach me. What actually happened was that I was so bad at basic math my teacher gave me an old film canister full of buttons so I could have a visual representation of the math equations. I’d count out my buttons. Take away the number of buttons in the equation and count what was left. So if the problem was 10 minus 3 I could visualize 7 buttons left over in the pile.
Before you judge too harshly, remember, I’m a chaplain for a reason!!! What is important in this story, other than never trust me to make accurate change, is that sometimes to overcome an obstacle what you need most is creativity and persistence. My second grade teacher was certainly persistent. I can now do basic addition and subtraction…well…kind of…sometimes I still use my fingers. The point is, someone sat long enough with me and my dense brain until we overcame the barriers keeping me from grasping the basics of math. She was for me a real hero.
Heroes (and SHEroes) come in all shapes and sizes. What make a good hero is not super human strength or powers but the willingness to persist. Overcoming the villain is mostly about never stopping the fight, even when you’re out matched. That’s what make superhero stories so exciting. If the only thing Wonder Woman had to do was twirl around into her super suit and snap a finger to make everything right, there would never be a need for sequel!!!
But every day Wonder Woman twirls into her suit, whips out her lasso of truth, jumps into the invisible jet, and continues to fight for justice and truth. Why? Because there is always a villain who didn’t get the memo that they were on the wrong side of justice. Everyday is a new fight, a new battle, a new challenge. Persistence and creativity are the only superpowers that really matter. Everything else is just special effects.
Everyday, you and I wake up, twirl out of bed, whip up a cup of coffee, jump into our cars or computers, and continue our struggle for the wellbeing of others. Our villains are invisible. Sometimes, they live very nearby, deep within. Everyday, the dragons of death, the monsters of grief, and the villains of despair stand ready to be vanquished. And everyday we rise up to the challenge, persistent and creative, to bring justice, to bring peace, to make sense of the unimaginable.
That is what makes you a hero! You will not finish the job today. Tomorrow, new villains will arise and demand your attention. Yet you will rise up and meet them and you will win. You are stubborn that way!
Author and poet Brian Andrea wrote: “Anyone can slay a dragon ...but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero.”
Your capacity to persistently and creatively love a broken and fearful world is your one and only superpower. It takes a real hero to love what is broken, to wake up everyday weary from the challenges of yesterday, and do it all again. Yes, it will make you tired and weary at the end of the day. Yes, you have to practice self care and refuel. Yes, you have to rest and recharge. That’s what all heroes do. And yes, you will get up tomorrow morning, weary in your bones, and love a broken and fearful world all over again.
I leave you with this thought by L.R. Knost:
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.
Your one true power is your capacity to persist in love. Water may be soft, but if it persists, will carve a canyon from a stream. Be soft. Be persistent. Be creative. Be extravagant. Be the light burning in the darkness illuminating the road to peace.
Love and Light and Stubborn Persistence!