Across the Pastor’s Desk: Together, make tomorrow better 

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Loren Olson

I had the opportunity to participate in two Hurricane Maria recovery trips to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of the storm’s destruction, many places had the message “Puerto Rico Se Levanta” painted on walls or signs and printed on T-shirts. “Puerto Rico Rising.” There was an indomitable spirit among the people that although the hurricane and its destruction of life and infrastructure had beat them up, they were not going to let the challenges defeat them.

I found the people our team worked with to be joyful as they went about the work of rebuilding their lives. I remember the laughter and good humor of a family we worked with that had one room in their home still covered with a roof, and 10 family members had been sleeping in that room for the months that followed the storm. They cried tears of joy as we began rebuilding their home, and they worked alongside us with happy chatter.

A recent picture on Facebook showed a young woman in her graduation dress as she stood among the rubble of warfare in Ukraine. It expressed hope for the future amid disaster. There have been other images of people singing, dancing and laughing in the middle of warfare. There are heartbroken people after mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde who are rising up, demanding change and hoping for a future when gun violence is not an integral part of our culture. I think a day will come when schools, offices and places of worship will not have to do active shooter drills, if we have the courage to do what needs to be done. If we have the will, it should not take too long. But while bad things still happen, be assured people will rise. We call it resiliency. We rise, we bounce back, we overcome and are able to find love, joy and hope in the midst of sadness and tragedy.

Rising gasoline prices, inflation, extremism and domestic terrorism, the war in Ukraine, rattling of sabers by China and North Korea, or perhaps you have had some bad news in your personal lives. There are days when we feel like a storm, invading army or violence are threatening to overrun us. Unfortunately fear, loss and grief are part of life. There are days when we need someone to come alongside us and stand with us. There are days when we need to be that someone for somebody else. We all need the encouraging words, “Se levanta!” We will rise. 

Scarlett O’Hara ends “Gone with the Wind” with the oft quoted line, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” We can say that with resignation or proclaim it with hope. I vote for hope. Not only is tomorrow another day, but it can also be a better day when we rise up together and work to make it so.

Loren Olson is chaplain for Mayo Clinic Hospice.