Learning to Embrace it All

13 May 2021

These continue to be complicated times, don’t they?  (Of course, as I type this I wonder if things are ever uncomplicated, but….)  We read and hear regularly about violence around our world, COVID-19 destroying families and communities, devastating impacts of climate chaos, and on and on.  Sometimes for me it can all feel too heavy to carry, too difficult to absorb.

And yet, as I write this the sun is shining outside.  When I just took my dog for a walk I saw flowers blooming everywhere.  In our Carleton community vaccination levels are wonderfully high, and graduating seniors have received the go-ahead to invite two guests to graduation.  While I haven’t been on campus in months, I hear that the general spirit feels more hopeful and joyous.

I’m also aware of the importance of this week if one is Muslim, and I want to wish you who observe – Eid Mubarak!  The last month has been an Islamic holy month of fasting, and Eid Al-Fitr, or the Festival of Fast-breaking is an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. I can’t pretend to have a deep understanding of this holiday, but as far as I know, it is a time of great celebration that can last for a few days.  

I suppose it is due to what I wrote above about these being complicated times, but today I am particularly struck by the fact that a celebration like Eid Al-Fitr happens every time Ramadan ends, no matter what else is going on in the world.  The way it is celebrated may look different depending on things like COVID, but it is an important celebration nonetheless.

A few weeks ago my therapist pointed out to me that it is both helpful and healthy to be able to recognize and hold both the negative and the positive, the hard and the joyful, at the same time.  That doesn’t mean it comes easily, at least not for many of us.  But in these days, as my Muslim siblings celebrate Eid Al-Fitr and I become overwhelmed by both the beauty and the pain of the world, I’m holding onto the reminder that these things can be and in fact are all true at the same time.  I’m not sure about you, but I know that I must continue to both embrace and practice this.  

May it be so.

In gratitude and hope,
Hannah Campbell Gustafson
Associate Chaplain for Christian and Interfaith Life