When I first found the sermon, I was attracted to it because he was talking about the future, and how young people don’t believe in the future the same way the older generations do. He writes, “Some young people don’t even anticipate a future at all, let alone shaping a future.”
At the time Rev. Owen-Towle was writing this sermon, I was a young child. And as I have grown, I have found that my cohort, my peers, do not see the future as the same rosy place that our parents and their peers do. As a teenager, this seemed very disconcerting. Couldn’t they see that we (our society, our species) couldn’t go on any further? As an adult, I find that we (my peers and I) do not discuss this bleakness in quite the same way we did as teenagers, but it is still there. We do plan for the future (it might happen the way it is supposed to) but we also plan for the fact that it might not be the way we have been told it will be, and we do not necessarily expect it. We tell our children to be prepared, that change is coming. Don’t get too attached to your comfortable life, it cannot last.
To find a written piece that discussed this anxiety, that didn’t sweep it under the rug as something shameful, and to be written by a member of the older generation, was amazing to me. Here was someone who understood! (Now, he thought the future was darkened by nuclear weapons, I think the future is darkened by climate change and population growth, my husband thinks the future is darkened by artificial intelligence, but these are just details.) And not only did he understand, but he had ideas of coping with this bleak future — ways to behave and be in the world that is changing for the worse under our feet.
We are to hold onto joy, act with compassion, say yes to life, acknowledge we are not perfect, maintain balance, appreciate beauty, and support each other. A beautiful prescription for living a good life in a changing and dangerous world.
I was so moved by the entirety of this sermon that I asked Rev. Owen-Towle for permission to reprint it here on this blog, which he kindly gave. I hope you have appreciated it as much as I have.
- Sunday Service: Sweet Survivors (lizbethsgarden.wordpress.com)