Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

Resilience is defined as a person’s capacity to recover quickly from suffering. The definition for an object with resilience is its capacity to return to its original shape. But as a spiritual concept, resilience requires more complexity. One does not recover from deep suffering quickly, and one almost never returns to original shape after it. Grief and loss take time, and rushing them can be harmful, while slowing down and allowing emotions to arise can ultimately lead to more resilience.

We might think of resilience as a winding journey to a new reality, with attention to the body, mind, and spirit along the way. It is particular to time, place, and person. It might look like gratitude for what is, honoring grief for what has been lost, or nourishing the heart for what is to come.

While resilience will differ depending on context, there are some tools and skills that will build it in our community. To be a people of resilience, we should build our capacity to feel, and to withstand discomfort, change, and ambiguity. We should build redundancy into our systems of support, and learn to take turns giving and receiving. We should remember to attend to celebration as well as grief, to build up the stores of joy. Laughter, singing, and dancing can spell suffering, if even for a moment.

This month, we launch our annual pledge drive. Our church continues to thrive because our members steward it—we are resilient as a people because our people take care of their spiritual home. This is your church, and it will be as resilient, well-maintained, and beautiful as the energy you put into it.

I look forward to building resilience in our community with you this month.

Love, Jennifer


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