How does stress affect your life?

By: Rev. Catherine Linesch, Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists
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How is it with your life? If you are like many people I know, you may be experiencing varying levels of stress. How does this impact your interactions with others? I have observed that people tend to respond in two ways when they are in a state of stress. First, they tend to have less patience than usual, and a decreased ability to understand one another. This can lead to arguments, and greater problems. The other response is that people support one another. In situations of extreme stress, like natural disasters, humans generally respond in ways that are compassionate and helpful. However, when we are slowly worn thin by life circumstances, it can be more of a challenge to respond to another in a spirit of patience and concern. The good news is that we can learn methods to be able to respond with care for our own thoughts and feelings, and to learn skillful ways to express ourselves. We can also develop in our ability to hear the deeper concern of another. Theologian Martin Buber has said that all real life is meeting. In times when we might tend to be driven apart, I believe that we are called to find ways to open to the great love that is the source of life. We are called to come, again and again, to the “overflowing well of love and compassion”: to learn the ways that will bind us together; to learn new skills for understanding; and to practice the art of communication so that we can meet. I believe that we are called to rediscover, again and again, the deep ground of love that is the source of our lives, and learn better how to express this love with one another, so that we might be of strong and substantial support to one another in our times of stress. This is holy work! The members of the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalist congregation believe that we are called to this holy work. We believe that we are each called to bring peace to one another in our congregation, to our family, our community, and into our world. Rooted in our belief that it is important to relate to all people with compassion, we will hold a workshop tomorrow to learn the skills and processes of healthy, constructive communication and conflict resolution skills. This event promises to empower us to bring a spirit of peace to our personal and professional communities. We invite you to join us. May the peace which passes understanding, which the world can neither give nor take away, be among us, and abide in our hearts. May we learn better how to live in this deep spirit of peace, and to express it in all our relations. Catherine Linesch is pastor of Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalist church in Auburn.