I write to you this week from what I call my “reverence time.” That’s my name for the early hours of the morning when it’s dark and still outside.
I’ve written to you from this place before. I’ve also written about how important it is to me. It’s my hope that you can craft your day in a way that allows you to experience reverence time as well, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
When the morning is still, I can hear nature waking. I can hear my own heart beating. I can observe my own mind as it tries to bounce from one thought to the next. I can actually acknowledge my mind’s sense of overwhelm, bring it back to its center, and feel it start to quiet down.
This special time of day is unique in its quietness. The dialogue I have with myself in these moments is tender, moving, and honest. It’s a moment for me to try and make sense of everything that’s happening and swirling around us in the world. I can say to myself, “How does one make sense of what is going on in Ukraine right now—the upheaval, the death and destruction, the despair?” I let the reality of what’s going on hurt my heart and take my breath away, as it should. I let the bravery I've witnessed move me as well. That includes the bravery of those who stay and fight and the bravery of those who continue to work like Dmytro Dorychevskyi, who we spoke to this week from his apartment in Ukraine. That includes those who cook, care for the newborns and the sick, and clean up the debris. It includes those who take their children’s hands and walk, only to lie down on a cold subway floor and pretend in front of their young ones that everything will be OK.
Each and every one of these people’s acts of bravery is mind-blowing, sobering, and inspiring to me. As a young child, I thought bravery was reserved for those who took physical risks. Thank God I’ve grown to broaden my definition. Thank God my mind is more expansive and my heart has been cracked open. Thank God I now know that acts of bravery are far bigger and broader than a child’s narrow vision.
A teacher once said to me that bravery is living inside out. Bravery is choosing to live a life of purpose, meaning, reverence, patriotism, and service. What we are seeing in Ukraine certainly can take one’s breath away, but so can the actions of people here at home. Make no mistake about that.
As a culture, we are not good at shining our lights on those who quietly, but bravely, walk through life. Those who share their darkest truths like former Ohio State University football player Harry Miller. He moved me this week with his story of all the inner pain he felt amidst what looked like glory. His tender heart was on full display. If one simply saw him on the football field, one would never know what his struggles had been. Now to hear him step forward and share the truth of his mental health struggles on the world stage is moving. His story brought me to tears.
I also felt such respect watching Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s bravery in her confirmation hearings. You don’t get to that moment in life without bravery, without determination, without inner fortitude, without believing you are here for something greater than yourself, as she is.
Of course, we are all here for something greater than ourselves. This is something I know deep in my soul. My hope is that you know it too. If you aren’t clear about this truth, then schedule some reverence time for yourself. You deserve it. You deserve to know you are brave. You have a destiny just like Judge Jackson, just like so many others who work, toil, volunteer, and live amongst us. Know this to be true.
As Russia continues to defy humanity on the world stage, be brave enough to choose to find a way —any way at all—to be a light of hope amidst the darkness.
Judge Jackson said last week that she hopes to inspire young people with her story. She spoke about a time during her freshman year at Harvard when she was standing there questioning herself—whether she really could make it, and whether she really belonged. Then a total stranger walked up, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Persevere.”
She said everything changed for her in that moment.
So persevere. Speak kindness. See those who walk amongst you. Open your eyes. Make time for reverence. It’s your destiny.
That’s it. That’s all. So be it.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, please help us remember that acts of bravery are all around us, and that we're all capable of being brave within our own lives. We're all here for something greater than ourselves. Whenever we doubt this to be true, help us get quiet, open our eyes, see the light, and persevere. Amen.
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