I find myself registering for a lot of webinars these days, usually listening to them in the background while I answer emails, like they are some bizarre work-from-home playlist. One webinar I caught last week was for faith leaders and gave leadership tips for crisis moments. The two panelists on the call had led their congregations through natural disasters. One pastor and his congregation had weathered five hurricanes!
At the end of the call one of the panelists said, “Never waste a crisis.” He went on to explain that moments of crisis are when things are intensified and we can see more clearly if our values are the things central to our identity, or if they are just fine ideas that we wish were central to our identity.
Finding the pearl of great value is a discovery that disrupts the flow of normal life, and crystallizes exactly what is important, what is real, and what matters. It is worth giving up everything else to have this one thing. It promises a new way of living.
In the vastness of a global pandemic, amid riots across the country, which of our values has been our guiding star? How have our actions pointed to our values? And do those values support our identity as people? Which of these is a “pearl”?
I can’t answer those questions for you as an individual. I know that as a people of faith, I am proud that our Agape and mission teams have sprung to action to give whatever they had - whether it was food, money, or supplies on hand - to help make this time of uncertainty less painful for our neighbors. That drive to spring to action when others are suffering is a pearl.
What would it mean to dive headfirst toward the impulse to end suffering?
The last thing one of the panelists said was that to decide when it is safe to do things more normally, we should ask “Am I making a decision because I am tired of how things are, or because things have changed?” When I apply this question to the protests and riots in major cities across our country, the answer is “both.” Some things have changed to expose the ugly side of how our society functions to ensure the suffering, even suffering unto death, of others. I am also tired of how things are. I am tired of living with inequalities. I am tired of poverty. I am tired of segregation. I am tired of unequal pay. I am just so tired.
We have found some pearls. We know what we value. Will we give up everything we have known in order to pursue a new way of living?