Times of loss and tragedy often draw us into closer community with greater care for one another. Pain is an adhesive that connects us, heart and soul.

When my mom died, people from my past and present reached out to me and my brother and sisters in a show of support and love that surprised me. Mom had been in assisted living for over nine years, and her friends from before then never really came to visit. Maybe she reminded them of what could become of them.

When she passed, we were surrounded by love and comfort from unexpected people.

The pain of others can bring out the best in us; hearts of compassion expand in times of crisis.

On the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 crisis, I’ve watched various networks shine a spotlight on the heroism of people who made immediate decisions to help those in desperate need. Individuals who didn’t consider the consequences to themselves but were compelled to help in tough times.

President Bush spoke of the pride he felt leading a nation whose selflessness pushed them to acts above and beyond expectation. He called it a “solidarity of grief and grace”, a time when we were drawn together to give to others because of our common patriotism. I remember when he threw out the first pitch of the World Series that year how it was a time of defying the enemy and standing firm as Americans, citizens and inhabitants of this great country. A symbol of unity. American flags were waved throughout the stadium–we were part of one another; our stories had been inexorably knit together.

How times have changed.

We no longer honor the country we live in with a sense of unity. We see each other as adversaries instead of partners in hope. President Bush also said we have now made “every disagreement into an argument, and every argument as a clash of cultures.” Rather than seeing the beauty of one nation, under God, with the possibility some day of everyone having a voice, we’re making it impossible to find common ground to come to any kind of agreement on anything.

With the schism so deep in our country, the withdrawal from Afghanistan has made it broader and more profound. The COVID vaccine has become a point of contention.

Our country is like a huge colorful sweater that is unraveling. And nobody wants to mend it.

Jesus spoke to the need for humility and forgiveness.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9

God created us to live, work, and thrive in community. To work together that we may grow together; respect one another that we might learn from each other.

We’re each a story being told, in community, and our stories are told collaboratively. We’re not a page standing alone with no context. We live among others who have the same struggles, questions, and fears we do.

We’re all part of God’s family if we allow ourselves to be. Family needs cooperation and commitment, even if you don’t like one another.

No one is an isolated story.

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