Here we are grieving…again.
We’ve been here before and yet, it still angers, hurts, horrifies.
Natural disasters,
Unnatural disasters…
Touching and taking far too many lives.

What are we to think?
How are we to react?
What do we do?

Though various factions may push forward their agendas, there really are no easy answers. The road getting here has been long and circuitous; our perceptions and beliefs factor heavily into our particular viewpoint.

I believe it’s important, however, not to devolve into fear and reactiveness. We are not powerless, even if our one contribution seems trivial. Because of the great web of energy that connects us all, we can, in fact, have an effect on the world around us just as Jesus promised: “Whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for me.”

What does that look like in practical terms?

You may not be able to personally bring water to a thirsty child on a storm-ravaged island, but you can hand out lemonade and love on a local street corner with a wish in your heart for blessing and health to brothers and sisters in another land.

You may not be able to thank the many emergency responders who put their lives on the line to protect innocent bystanders from indiscriminate gunfire this week, but you can write a note of appreciation to the firefighters and paramedics down the street.

And, you can pray for the health of our world, for the health of our nation, for love to win.

But for love to win in our nation and world, love must first win in our hearts.
Love MUST win in our hearts.
We cannot keep looking for the love in someone else, for them to decide to be kind or good or respectful before we’ll jump on the wagon. We simply must look deep within our own heart to recognize the prejudice, judgment and hatred that underlies our responses and decisions.

This fascinating quote reminded me that outer change, even outer accomplishments, are really dry husks until the inner work is done.

“Thomas Merton observed that Gandhi’s political revolution sprang from an inner, spiritual revolution of the heart…Merton wrote…’The whole Gandhian concept of nonviolent action…is incomprehensible if it is thought to be a means of achieving unity rather than as the fruit of inner unity already achieved.’1

Outer acts of service can be merely ego-strokers if we have not done the hard soul-work that predicates inner unity.

Let the work begin…
here and now…
first in my heart.

Ann Halim is editor of e-Weekend, a newsletter for the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Reprinted with permission.

1 John Dear, Thomas Merton, Peacemaker: Meditations on Merton, Peacemaking, and the Spiritual Life (Orbis Books: 2015), 17, mine.