I've learned a lot about trust from animals, cats mostly. I've been in the company of strays most of my life, and they require special love and patience to learn to trust. Whenever I was impatient, moving too fast based on my timeline and need for affection, they reminded me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that they weren't ready. They let me know through hiding or a warning hiss, once in a while a swat of the paw. At times, I've had to entice my feline companions through playing and treats, and push the limits by scooping them up for a quick hug. Then one day after weeks, months, or in some cases years, there's a moment when the relationship turns a corner. The moment when the animal takes a chance. It's a pivotal moment, one that's easily undermined by my own eagerness. But here I have learned by my mistakes.
All of this has shown me about how trust can grow, even in the places where there has been abandonment, injury, betrayal, or let down. I have had to recognize that I have at times been like those stray cats. I have had to be patient with myself making baby steps to rebuild my confidence in myself and in others after I've been hurt. It isn't always easy to trust oneself or others after making poor choices or trusting the wrong people or being worn down by losses. So it can be good to go slow. But I've also learned that sometimes I just need to take a leap, take a chance. Life dishes up plenty of opportunities to leap or go slow, and also to remain still while we heal and sort things out in our minds.
As a religious community, we come together to remind each other that we aren't alone. We come together to rebuild our confidence in ourselves and each other. We also come together to remind each other that there is something larger than ourselves that we can rely on. We Unitarian Universalists can be heard talking about trusting "a Love that will not let us go." That Love is what we mean when we talk about God or the Holy. It is what we hope for when we talk about Beloved Community. Community promises us that, when we take that leap or that baby step, someone will be there to celebrate with us, even if we fall or fail. And if we do fail, we can still count on the community to be patient with us and sometimes to give us a nudge.
This month as we explore the theme of trust, I invite you to consider the fears that hold you back. How might you overcome those fears and build trust in yourself? How trusting are you in life itself?
Yours in faith and love,