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Discernment for Hope

Discernment for Hope

In the Soul Matters UU congregational curriculum, December’s theme is Expectation. When I think of expectation in December, I think of the phrase I heard over and over and over at every Mass I ever attended as a child:  We wait in joyful hope…

Joyful hope.

In the UU congregations I know, “expectation” is turning out to be a difficult theme to wrestle with. How difficult it is to muster joyful hope in times like these…

Are they really different from other times? Aren’t racism and white supremacy just being unmasked for what they are and have been for hundreds of years? And aren’t wars just going on as they always have? And aren’t people fighting over resources as we always have?

Yes and no.

Income inequality is causing inter-class strife in the United States such as hasn’t been seen in my lifetime. Wars are bring fought over petroleum resources that are. going. to. run. out. Earth’s climatic patterns are changing in ways they. never. have. since. the. advent. of. human. civilization. Children are killing one another, accidentally and on purpose, with weapons that should never have been in their hands.

And so is joyful hope called for? Or even hope, period.

two small iris bloomingWhat is hope in these contexts?

My brother, Dr. Peter D. Buckland, says that hope is in action. And so then the question becomes, What action am I to take? What action is yours to take?

Rev. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what brings you alive. Because what the world needs is more people who are alive.”

What brings you alive? What makes you smile? What lights up your eyes? What brings you deep, abiding peace? Not just happiness, but peace?

This question of what brings you peace is the central question of discernment. A well-discerned decision, even if it’s not the answer you you wanted to begin with, will leave you feeling peaceful, settled, even assured.

And so it seems to me that discernment is a way to hope. Discernment which can lead us to right being, right action, right livelihood, is a way to hope. Discernment which can bring us to what makes us alive. Discernment which can bring us hope.

I know that many of my beloved colleagues are entering periods of deep discernment now. And friends in academia are, as well. And many others of us, moving towards the New Year, are taking stock of where we are and who we are and what we’re doing. It can be a time of stress and concern, a time of indecision and worry, even a time of feeling hopeless.

Entering into structured discernment can help.

I invite you to join me in a discernment process that will give you tools to make good decisions in difficult times. The Way of the River Discernment Package includes the following:

  •  Three calls (by phone, Skype, or Zoom, whichever you prefer) to discuss your specific discernment concern and tools to help;
  • An introductory recording that explains my philosophy of discernment and introduces you to a reliable, body-based discernment technique;
  • “Homework” prompts and written “assignments” to help you work on your discernment between calls;
  • Recordings of all three of our calls.

The fee for the entire package—$250—is a significant discount over the elements of the package taken separately. I do hope, if you’re having trouble working out how you want to be, what you want to be doing, or how you want to do it, you’ll consider signing up.

By the way, this package is somewhat different from my usual spiritual direction work in that it is designed to be focused on a particular question for discernment. If you’re interested in exploring longer-term spiritual accompaniment, look at this page for more information and an invitation.

And for now, so much love, hope, and trust for all of us in this struggling world.

swan on river
hope is the thing with feathers… (Emily Dickison)

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