Friday, April 15, 2016

Good Travels at a Snails Pace

I came across a quote from Gandhi this week: Good travels at a snail’s pace.  Those who want to do good are not selfish, they are not in a hurry, they know that to impregnate people with good takes a long time. (THE WORDS OF GANDHI selected by Richard Attenborough, Newmarket Press  1982).

    I guess they were words I was supposed to read.  It is hard to stay connected with a sense of the process of goodness unfolding in a world where so much energy seems martialed against it.  And still, I sit in morning worship and hear the prayers and concerns of the people and I realize that I sit in the midst of goodness – of simple goodwill and the sincere concern for one anothers well being.  There is nothing bombastic about it.

    There is great patience here in the face of often deep pain and fear-- a grandchild born with hydrocephalus – unable to breathe or eat independently; a mother who is anxious about having all her somewhat alienated children under her roof at the same time; a single mom who literally fights her way through the pain of MS to get to the communion rail; a sister who keeps vigil as her brother hovers near death –rallies – and plunges again in an exhausting dying process; a young father with debilitating heart disease.

    There is unselfishness here.  Other grandparents gather around to support the grandmother who keeps vigil with her infant grandson via hospital webcam; other parents of adult children embrace an anxious mother.  There is an unhurried and loving, and dignified “surround” for the one struggling to make her way to communion.  The children of a compromised young father are “owned” by the congregation.  Constant prayer undergirds the sister who attends her brother’s dying.

    On a blustery April Sunday morning, no one is in a hurry - - there is time for goodness.   So Gandhi’s words take on a human face and hope once again pops up like the indefatigable snow drops and crocus - - breaking through the last of the winter snow.

    With the ugliness of political campaigning so very present, with news of terror attacks in Brussels, with the constant engagement with issues of racism and anti-Semitism and religious intolerance, it is all too easy to slip into forgetfulness about the simple good that keeps working in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

     I find myself feeling deeply grateful for this tiny country church long settled in this farming and fishing community up-island.  I find myself sitting in the companionship of social workers, special needs counselors, artists, substance abuse counselors, corporate executives, people without a home to go to, people who advocate for racial equality, people who are hungry, people who tend to the feeding of others who are lacking, people who search for wholeness for themselves and others.   Here is a stalwart community of people who seem to embody the wisdom of “good.”  No high drama – just the work of impregnating - - no matter how long it takes.

Vicky Hanjian


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