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September 29, 2019: “Love – X – Hope”

Love and Hope — two of the most uplifting of human experiences — aren’t exactly the same thing, but they certainly need one another to survive.  The thing that unites them must be positive.  But maybe that thing isn’t all warm sunshine and sweet kisses.

Personal Reflection  Dorothy Lemmey

To love is to be afraid. You are frightened, deathly terrified, that something will happen to those you love. […] And love enslaves us all, for you cannot have love without fear.” 

 ― Marie Lu

 And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” MrRogers

 I have seen these helpers in East Shore. Since 1982 when I discovered my sister was being severely and repeatedly abused by her husband, I have feared for my sister’s life and hopeless to help her. I read books, research articles and applied for a March of Dimes grant for “prevention of battering during pregnancy.” That 3-day training in 1989 at Houston, Texas led to increased awareness of a system that protects our neighbors but not those we love. If you punched your neighbor you go to jail, if you punched your wife we ask you to cool off and walk around the block. In 1982 Domestic violence murders were not even distinguished from other murders so we could not follow. I was angry at an unjust and ineffective system that generated much energy within me.

 I trained nurses to assess for and intervene for those being abused. I published articles, chapters in books including a nursing textbook, and editorials. I sat on committees involving prosecutor LaTourette and Judge Adrine to improve the legal system’s response to domestic violence. I joined East Shore in January of 1994 and approached the board with the idea to produce these wooden figures of women murdered by their intimate partners. It was heartwarming to see a team produce this project. We also sponsored a production in 2004 of “Vagina Monologues.” The $6000 proceeds of that production went to 3 battered women’s shelters. There were over 41 volunteers in this project and it brought tears to my eyes. I know you are surprised. I was starting to feel hope.

When things are scary look for the helpers.

Today we have laws to protect women, the health care system assesses for abuse in every admission, some communities have mandatory arrest in probable cases of domestic abuse.

 We’ve been doing marathon watching of Chicago fire and Chicago med. I so enjoy these series. Why I ask myself, it’s because I watch the power of a team accomplishing a project that would be impossible alone. That is the power of belonging to East Shore. We can accomplish so much more as a team than any one of us could do alone. That is what I found at East Shore the silent witnesses and the vagina monologues and the remodeling 3 rooms at transitional housing as part of our making an impact on domestic violence. I could not have done any of those things without us working as a team. So, we have worked to instill hope which was at one time hopeless since DV has been there for a millennium. My sister is now safe and there is hope for tomorrow. Through the last 35 years I’ve wondered whether the work we do makes a difference. Once I was in an audience at Lakeland Community College and a man tapped me on the shoulder.

 I turned around and saw an average looking Caucasian man with dark hair and a grey suit.

 He asked, “Are you Dorothy Lemmey?” 

 I had never seen this man before but I replied, “Yes I am.” 

 “I just want you to know my daughter heard you speak once and it gave her the courage to leave her very dangerous situation. She is now safe. Thank you.”

 There is hope. 

 Reading “Choosing Love, Not Fear,” by Nancy Collier, LCSW      Dorothy Lemmey

Reject fear, choose love. This is a popular refrain and wonderful advice. Many believe that there are only two primal emotions in the human being, love and fear, and that we cannot feel both at once. And, that in the same way that light removes darkness, love can remove fear. 

The choice to reject fear and choose love can feel like something that only applies to moments of crisis, when we’re leaving a marriage, starting a new business, preparing to climb Mount Everest. But in truth, the opportunity to choose love and reject fear presents itself in the smallest moments of life, and specifically, in relationships with those closest to us. Love over fear is a choice every time someone tells us something about ourselves or has an experience of us that we don’t want to hear. We hurt each other in intimate relationships—intentionally and unintentionally—that’s a fact. 

It’s a survival instinct and indeed, it can feel as if our very survival is at stake. 

What’s at stake is not our physical survival, but the survival of our version of ourselves. And so, we try to protect the identity of the good self, the self who is innocent, not to blame for what is being accused.  

Operating from love is to set our own ego aside long enough to listen to the experience of the other, to be courageous enough to be willing to try and understand what the other person is experiencing, no matter how radically different it is from what we intended to happen, think happened, or believe was the cause of what happened. It is to have the strength of heart to understand and open our heart to what the pain is that the other is skillfully or unskillfully trying to express. A response (not reaction) that comes from love is listening to the other’s upset as if we were just ears hearing, ears alone, not ears attached to a head, attached to an ego, attached to an identity, attached to a person intent on remaining intact and unchanged. 

To live from love not fear, on a practical level, is to shift from a goal of protecting our ego, being right, winning the argument, being not to blame, and move into actually being kind, being loving—in our actions. 

Sermon “Love — X — Hope”          Rev. Denis Letourneau Paul

“Officially our name is ESUUC.  Church.  But we are also a lot of other things. We are a…

… Community/ journey together

… Congregation/commitment, 

… Fellowship/Care

But We’re also a..

… Temple/honor humanity

… Shrine/ remember those gone before

Today, in honor of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, let’s turn our worship into a schul.  worship.  Literally School.  

“Come on a Journey with me”

.  Get flip chart.

“Three years ago we came to a turning point in our country. I wasn’t surprised, but…

.  Email sign off: Lauren Duca

.  “Do something. Angry energy turns into despair.”

“Now, you can argue that we are better off now than we were 5 years ago…not buying it.”

Wall Street: moments of exuberance/deregulation

Jobs started coming back 5 years ago “You may disagree with me intellectually, but one thing I knew…. my fear was real.  

And is REAL. Proud homophobe Pence.

“To me, the proof that I was right to be afraid is that we have in office a bully who picks on kids, and works with foreign countries to to improve his chances of political survival.  Countries that we have always struggled with because of their tendency toward tyranny.

“So three years ago, I was faced with a dilemma: How was I supped to act to avoid despair?  I’m not a naturally mathematical person, but I started out by parsing out Lauren Duca’s observation algebraically.  I thought of it this way: Anger, without action, leads to despair.

Anger – Action = Despair

“The thing about fear, as Nancy Collier rightly points out, is that we become most afraid when our egos are attacked.  “Love over fear is a choice every time someone tells us something about ourselves or has an experience of us that we don’t want to hear. … What’s at stake is not our physical survival, but the survival of our version of ourselves. And so, we try to protect the identity of the good self.”

I other words, we get defensive.   We act out, lash out even, so that fear and anger can look an awful lot alike.  They can actually be the same thing.

So: Fear – Action = Despair

Hope is the opposite of despair 

So: Fear + Action = Hope

“What was I supposed to DO?  What were WE…

“I heard about a friend’s daughter the day after the election

“There was so much happening, so fast:

.  Ban on Muslims entering the country

.  children being separated from their families

.  A tax cut that left Amazon paying less in taxes than I do

.  In Ohio, reproductive rights threatened 

List goes on and on

Everything seemed futile.   

My fear was turning into anger.

“Despair was always right there, growing around me from lack of action.

“I tried reading about overcoming fear and despair, but all the old methodologies didn’t seem to work.  They were about overcoming small personal conflicts, facing individual spiritual malaise, NOT overcoming an unnamable, undefinable spiritual divide that has been tearing us apart and threatening our livelihood. 

.  Nancy Collier….logical, but didn’t change how I felt.

.  Nothing did.

“I knew I had to move from fear to a place of Love and Hope.  but what held those two things together?

“Had to change the equation: super simple Venn Diagram

What do you suppose “X” stands for?

[tease out answers, and list.]

For me X = Fear. 

When love grows, fear diminishes

When hope diminishes, fear grows

Makes sense to me, especially re: abusive relationships

.  Spouse

.  Church

.  Love of self grows

.  Hope for something else

“Love and hope are diminished when fear grows.

“And when love and hope grow, fear diminishes. 

“I got confirmation of this Venn Diagram when I came across this quote lately:

“Hope confronts. It does not ignore pain, agony, or injustice. It is not a saccharine optimism that refuses to see, face, or grapple with the wretchedness of reality. 

You can’t have active hope without despair, because hope is a response. Hope is the act of conviction that despair will never have the last word.

Write “Hope confronts”

Cory Booker said that in his book United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.

I want to read it again:

“Hope confronts. It does not ignore pain, agony, or injustice. It is not a saccharine optimism that refuses to see, face, or grapple with the wretchedness of reality. You can’t have active hope without despair, because hope is a response. Hope is the act of conviction that despair will never have the last word.”

In other words, Hope can’t exist without a bit of despair … self-assured, oblivious

Love, without a bit of fear, isn’t love.  It’s taking another for granted. … 

.  Ugly/beautiful

.  Light/dark

You know, when I was a Kid, I was terrified of my anger.  I was afraid of what I could ….

“But I learned how to move through anger.  I remember one time, my ex and I were driving from Arizona to California…

“What that did is it taught me how to use anger for good, by diffusing it, redirected that energy…

“Maybe the same thing can happen with fear…  

Add “love” and “Fear “

Love and 

Hope confronts


“Maybe by confronting fear with hope and love, we can move through pain, agony and injustice, rather than just ignoring it and letting it grow.

“In the last few weeks, I’ve tried it…

“That’s what I hope we do here on Sundays and First Wednesdays and any other time we gather.  We use our love and hope to confront fear.  We help each other nurture the love and hope we have right here around us, even among the folks we don’t necessarily agree with, and use that love and hope to move through the fear, to use is to confront despair.

“It makes me grateful that we have folks like Dorothy around to learn from.  She was in a place of fear that could have been overwhelming, that could have turned into rage or despair.  But she didn’t let it.  She snagged with her fear through study and reaching out to people who could help, striving to become a helper herself.  

“I have a feeling that over the next few months, as the impeachment inquiry continues, and 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses begin, we’re all going to be facing some very real fear and anger.  We will likely even disagree with one another.  “My hope for us is that we all have the courage to work through all that negative and potentially harmful energy, to reduce it and make more space for love and hope.

“If we can each do that, and support and teach each other, we can make it through anything.

“May it be so.”