I have a small plaque on my desk that reads, “courage, strength and hope live in our hearts.” As I reflect on my first two full months as the new leader of UMCOR, those words have grown in meaning. I have listened to our staff share stories of their work around the world and not only has the work required courage, strength and hope on their part but the stories of the people impacted by their work have been filled with courage, strength and hope. I am constantly amazed by the extraordinary resilience of people. In Haiti, in Tennessee, in Sudan, in Chile, throughout the continent of Africa – people are resilient and exemplify courage, strength and hope.
The small plaque in my office was a gift to my sister. I gave it to her as she battled end-stage liver disease. It hung by her bedside and each and every morning she awakened to those words. When she died, that tiny plaque became part of my life. Now, as I sit at my desk my heart is strengthened by those same words. My sister taught me a new meaning for these words and now the people I encounter, who share their countless stories of survival in times of disaster, has once again renewed the meaning of courage, strength and hope.
I suppose it is only appropriate that UMCOR too lives by similar words—Be There. Be Hope. It is because we know that hope lives in our hearts that we respond, that we are there. It is because of the extravagant generosity of the people of the United Methodist Church around the world that hearts unite and hearts respond to Be There and to Be Hope.
One of my favorite writers is Macrina Wiederkehr and in her book “Seasons of Your Heart” she says, “Hope is a small seed that grows wildly when it is nurtured.“
Today, as you go about your day, my prayer is that you have the courage and strength to look around your own community and look for places and people where you might see some seeds of hope and nurture them that they may grow wildly! Courage, strength and hope live in our hearts!
Grace and Peace,