Rev. David Berkey of Michigan Area United Methodist Camping calls us to respond to the isolation and despair caused by recent news by accessing the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.
REV. DAVID BERKEY
Executive Director, Michigan Area United Methodist Camping
After the third hour of sitting at my desk, alone, with some phone calls, emails, and a Zoom to show for it, I keep wondering about the spiritual perspective of this world we live in. Like that Wesleyan question people of faith ask one another: “How is it with your soul?”
News of mass shootings, war, racism, celebrity videos, divisive rhetoric, climate change, and leaders deceiving their constituents bombards our soul—weakening its ability to respond with fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Access to that Spirit, which feeds our soul, strengthens it, and gives it resilience against the onslaught, often seems more remote these days.
I write today just days after the shooting at Michigan State University that killed three students and wounded five more. We learned the shooter was deeply depressed and profoundly sad, and his act left thousands in the same way. Studies reveal that young people’s frequency of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts is at an all-time high. The COVID-19 pandemic created a culture that left many of us isolated and withdrawn, lacking community and human interaction.
We are called to respond to these complex challenges with the tools God has given us. It is challenging, and I don’t minimize the depth of the despair around us. And yet we can offer some antidotes to the isolation and bombardment of our souls.
The Holy Spirit is always there and ready for us. Like a growing fruit-bearing tree, we must work to find nourishing soil, fresh water, and enriching sunlight so that we can bear healthy fruit for ourselves and others. Like spiritual guardians of the good, we must fight to protect and strengthen our soul for this age and this time. Here are three ways to reach for the Spirit.
The Soil of Connection
Seeing memes and inspirational quotes on social media is fun, but calling a friend to check in might be even more meaningful. Tuning in to online church services is vital for the homebound, yet consider how your soul may be strengthened through in-person community. Tech tools are essential for work and communication, yet a Lenten fast from those electronic practices that damage our souls and keep us isolated may be what you need.
The Water of Learning
Immerse yourself in something new. Try a new spiritual practice at one of our retreats. Take up a new hobby or sport. Summer campers learn and grow in all sorts of ways as they try things like archery, canoeing, or creating a skit together. What have you always wanted to learn? Let’s make it happen!
The Sunlight of Creation
As leaders of camp and retreat experiences, Michigan Area United Methodist Camping offers creative ways to meet the yearnings of our souls in these challenging times. You’ll find sacred places set apart in God’s creation, time to be with others or just yourself, and caring Christian hospitality. What does your soul call for right now? Email me with an idea. We’re on the journey with you.
You are in the fruit-bearing business! It is what you were made to do. Your soul rejoices in receiving good soil, fresh water, and abundant light through the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you are in crisis or think you may have a mental health emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 988 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time.