Praying Our Goodbyes
By Carol Bloom
Six years ago this month, I arrived in Cos Cob, knowing only a couple of people in the Spiritual Care Department at Greenwich Hospital. I quickly met and got to know the people of Diamond Hill United Methodist Church: Scouts and Scout leaders; the other clergy in Greenwich; leaders and volunteers from many community service agencies; owners and employees of local businesses; and persons who are in leadership positions in the town.
What I discovered early on is that, for the most part, people in this town have a genuine desire to help others. There is a spirit of generosity and a willingness to work on projects that benefit others. We had so much fun forming alliances that sometimes surprised others, such as with Little Pub, who partnered with us on the annual PB&J Challenge to benefit Neighbor to Neighbor, and the annual Backpack and School Supplies Drive to benefit the children served by the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich and Neighbor to Neighbor. Most recently, Little Pub hosted a new program, Public Theology, with Diamond Hill UMC and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
We found willing partners to publicize our projects on WGCH Radio and in the Greenwich Sentinel. They helped us get the word out and made it possible for these projects to succeed. If I were to list all the persons and organizations I would like to thank for their efforts, I would surely forget some.
It has been my joy to work with the Scouts, especially Troop 10 (chartered by Diamond Hill UMC for 98 years) and Troop 7, the first all-girls BSA troop in Greenwich (chartered by Diamond Hill UMC last year). I have been privileged to host the Scout Sunday celebrations for these two troops and their families, to lead services for multiple troops at Camp Seton, and participate in Courts of Honor.
Much good work has been done over the past six years, yet much work remains. Our society is facing many challenges. We have the obvious challenges of a pandemic, hunger, poverty, racism, and violence. We also live in a time of divisiveness and hateful rhetoric. One of the values that Scouting teaches is the importance of being kind. It is part of the Scout Law and it has never been more important than it is today. Being kind is also a basic component of every major faith tradition. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is part of the Great Commandment identified by Jesus, but it first appears in the book of Leviticus in the Torah.
Being kind is a choice and it is always an option. When someone is suffering, be kind. When someone is mourning, be kind. When someone is in need, be kind. When someone is being ignored or cast aside by others, be kind. When someone is unkind to you, be kind. Sometimes being kind is easy and safe – we can offer words of comfort and support, and we can donate food or other supplies. At other times, being kind is difficult, and may even feel dangerous, but it is still an option. When someone is unkind to you, take a breath, consider your response before you speak, and be kind. When someone has been cast aside by others, take a breath, and find the courage to be kind even if you know others will disapprove. Being kind is not a sign of weakness but rather an indication of great strength.
My prayer for you is that you will continue the good work of being kind, of being generous, of helping others, of choosing not to participate in divisiveness.
Now, as I prepare to depart for a new church appointment in another town, I leave you with this benediction, given by Bishop Woodie White at the 1996 General Conference of the United Methodist Church:
“And now, may the Lord torment you. May the Lord keep before you the faces of the hungry, the lonely, the rejected and the despised. May the Lord afflict you with pain for the hurt, the wounded, the oppressed, the abused, the victims of violence. May God grace you with agony, a burning thirst for justice and righteousness.
May the Lord give you courage and strength and compassion to make ours a better world, to make our community a better community, to make our church a better church.
And may you do your best to make it so, and after you have done your best, may the Lord grant you peace.” Amen.