I am part of a clergy-sister prayer group. There are four of us in the group. We started about a year ago. Then we lived close together and could meet in our homes once a month, conference-calling each other on the weeks we did not meet face-to-face. But now, being the United Methodist clergy that we are, some of us have moved making it much more difficult to physically get together. Recently we have tried Google chatting (not smoothly since we are somewhat technologically challenged), at least being able to see each other’s faces when we share and pray together. Our weekly times have been a mainstay for me in a job and a culture that is often lonely and at times even abusive to ministry sisters.
In our most recent time together I heard the voice of depression speaking in one of my sisters. All four of us recognize the voice intimately. One of us spoke about how it is especially difficult to experience depression in a time when our culture is celebrating a time of New Year making resolutions to get our selves together, makeovers, becoming organized and new. Oprah appears on a television ad saying “2016 is going to be the year of my best body and It is going to be that for you too.” (I think she’s advertising Weight Watchers?)
When we “entered” our time of prayer (I actually experience our entire times of sharing, laughing, crying together as prayer) I heard words of the Holy Spirit, gifts of hope and trust and wanting these gifts to become realities in our lives. “2016 is going to be the year of my best hope and trust and it is going to be for you too.” God is naming us “women of hope.” I like the name but I wonder if it fits us.
When I was finished with our phone call, my good friend who is also our daughter’s caregiver and friend told me that when she walked by my study she could hear me laughing and could also hear those sort of “tinny” sounds of other’s laughter coming out of the computer. “It sounded like Sherrie and the chipmunks as in “Alvin and the chipmunks,” she laughed. And I laughed with her. Now there’s a name of hope! In the midst of talking about illness, loneliness, lack of trust, despair, and confusion, what was heard was creatures laughing! “2016 is going to be the year of my best laughter and it is going to be for you, my sisters, too.” May it be so.