Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Shapers of Change

By Martha Durkee-Neuman

"All that you touch
you Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God is Change."
—Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

Last fall, I had been thinking a lot about the end of the world. The apocalypse. The time when the world we know to be true is gone, forever, and there's a new world taking shape.

I'd been thinking about the end of the world so much I was going to preach about it. Then two days before my sermon, I experienced the sudden end of a serious relationship and found myself heartbroken, without a place to stay, adrift. I woke at a friend’s house and shakily gave my sermon, feeling like my world had just ended.

Against a black background, a white egg rests on its side. A second egg, standing on its end, has had its top removed and green sprout grows out of the egg.

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower came into my life at this time, exactly when I needed it. I didn’t know the times of change I was in for, or how much I would come to need these words. I woke up every morning for months and read these words like a mantra:

all that you touch you Change
all that you Change Changes you
the only lasting truth is Change
God is Change

Everything about my personal world and the world around me changed in the span of a week. Then the pandemic hit and the world changed again (and again). So many things ended; so many new things began. We're learning to live on shifting grounds. How long will this last? What will life look like on the other side? What will normal become? Will my country find courage to protect its people? How many of us will die?

Despite it all, God is change. And despite how painful, this change is holy. As I repeat these words to myself, grounding myself in the divinity of this only lasting truth, more of Octavia’s words come to me—“God exists to be shaped”—and I begin to work on shaping this change, reckoning with the knowledge that it is holy because it is mine to make. I am no longer a victim of change: I am creating shifting grounds. I am shaping the world that is to come, shaping God.

Prayer

Change that is God, God that is Change, bring us resilience for journeying across shifting grounds; wisdom for navigating the apocalypses of our lives; and courage to shape change, shape God, and create the world we must build together.