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Being there, practicing Resilience

Being there, hanging in, working for the good of all, being the change, standing firm, being resilient.

In times of change and uncertainty, we’re all called to be strong and true to our core values, our essential reason or purpose for what we do why we are here. And sometimes we are reminded it’s not just about ourselves, it’s everyone and everything around us.

Last week I called the nursery where I had acquired a tree that was planted in my front yard last May. But some of the leaves were turning brown and it was not sprouting new leaves. It wasn’t thriving per my expectations. The arborist looked at the pictures I’d sent him and said. “Don’t give up. Trim it back. It’ll sprout new leaves and branches, it’ll grow.” And then he said the magic words: “you picked the perfect time for this, as it’s the beginning of the tree’s growing season.” A wave of relief went through me. My worries abated. My tree would live. I imagined it flourishing before my eyes. Healing from the heat of summer, regenerating, transforming into what it was meant to be. God or Spirit or maybe simple intuition had intervened and given me the right advice at the right time.

Challenges come in fits and starts and how we respond individually or collectively can make such a difference. On a tourist trip we took to Cuba this past January, we learned so much about its history. Cuba transformed numerous times, from a Spanish colony to a fledgling republic, to a communist hierarchy, now becoming part of the world again after decades of isolation. Whatever the outcome, our trip there showed us how resilient and unified the Cuban people are, how proud of their history, and how important the basics are to create and maintain a resilient society: good schools, good health care, and functional infrastructure. Their music and art told their story and reminded us of how they’ve shaped their own destiny.

And what about us back here in the ‘free world’. We’ve also had our shocks, traumas, and challenges. We and the rest of the world just personally and collectively got through a major prolonged pandemic public health emergency. We were blessed with the capacity to respond physically, emotionally, medically, economically, politically, and even through thoughtful, evidence-based public health policies. We are still one people. We are still active on the world stage. God and Spirit and our own better selves met the challenge, lived our resilience, and became more unified, more giving, more generous, more heart-centered, and better people because of it.

Recently at a luncheon with some older colleagues we discussed what happened to us 30 years ago: our program in public health was targeted to be sunsetted. So, what did we the denizens of that soon-to-be downsized program do? We organized ourselves and became one mind and one voice, unified and whole. We recommitted ourselves to work for our communities, our state, and our world, and to shift the idea that health is simply a matter of fate or luck or genetics or money, but also is an outcome that can be achieved for all. Spokespersons and heroes and champions emerged from within and without, the arguments for abolishing our program were upended, and the threat subsided. Our field grew and thrived. And I for one knew that Spirit had something to do with it even though my lunch
buddies experiencing that challenge might disagree.

Being there, hanging in, working for the good of all, being the change, standing firm, and being
resilient. That is what we do, who we are. Bless Spirit for giving us the faith, insight, experience, and inspiration to prevail.

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