The great writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said, “For Jesus, peace seems not to have meant the absence of struggle, but the presence of

I recognize and share Buechner’s sentiment. Life on this planet is a daily grind filled with struggle. I try to live my life drama free. I try to live it in such a fashion that I do not have to struggle to tie my shoelaces or wear a proper pair of socks. In crisis though, I have had difficulty tying my shoelaces, and have found myself looking at the mismatched socks I had chosen for a given day and realized that I had another pair just like them in my drawer.

Wandering through Advent, looking for light, I am aware that most of us are struggling with something. A lot of us move from one drama to the next and never pass GO. We struggle with internecine wars in our families of origin, in our extended families, and in organizations to which we belong. We experience emotional cutoffs with friends, family, and colleagues more so at this time of year than any other. Often, we wake up fearing that we do not measure up to our own expectations or to others’. Young or old, it makes no difference. Politicians, corporations, family, and friends subliminally attempt to coerce us to buy their products and to agree to their ideology and
thought processes. When conscious, I struggle to maintain my core being.

Many of us have experienced changes we do not like and are unprepared to live with. Someone we know receives a diagnosis that is not good. Someone in our sphere of influence dies or goes away, and we are left grieving and suffering. At our wits’ end, we simply find it difficult to breathe. I become exhausted with happy, clappy people who exude constant cheer, who live with the illusion that they have never failed, screwed something up, or ever struggled with the pain the rest of us know as our realities. Some days life is

I try so hard to hold the struggles of life at bay. If, as Frederick Buechner says, “For Jesus, peace seems to have not meant the absence of struggle, but the presence of love,” then I must once again change my frame of reference. I must practice reminding myself that the very presence of love makes getting up each day and encountering the slings and arrows of day-to-day existence, tolerable. I recommit myself to the good news that the presence of love makes life worth living. I try to surround myself with people who though encountering struggle, pain, and life distress yet live day to day with the presence of love. Your life, my life, any life is worthwhile when we find in
ourselves the courage and ability to transcend struggles because of the presence of love.

Practicing the presence of love is difficult. It  requires me to think anew about how easy it is to dismiss people, places, and things I cannot control and with whom I struggle. I must practice not attempting to determine the outcomes of daily life.

I need to practice keeping my hands open in whatever struggle I find myself and claim peace because I know the presence of love. I hope, come what may, that you will remember that you can choose the presence of love as a gift that is yours in spite of struggle. I join you in the practice.

Copyright © *2022, First Church of Monson, Congregational, United Church of Christ
"No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."

5 High Street, Monson, Mass. 01057  (413) 267-3312

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