Grace Notes: March 20, 2024 – Rev. Kimberley Debus

from Rev. Kimberley Debus

This month we’ve been talking about envisioning – what is the future we seek? And more, how do we shift our thinking when things seem so terrible?

As I was contemplating this question – and feeling pretty cynical, to be honest – I opened Facebook to find a post by an old friend, Kevin “Mookie” Harris. I’ve known Mookie since the early 1990s – we did improv comedy together, and he’s remained a friend although we both left North Carolina. (Mookie is currently an educator in the dinosphere section of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – which is definitely a cooler job than mine.) One of the reasons we’ve stayed friends is that he’s a model of finding joy in the hardest places, and his perspective brings me out of despair when I need it most.

Mookie’s post resonated deeply with me, and with his permission, I’m sharing it with you in hopes it resonates for you too.

The world is bad right now.

This country is in trouble right now.

It will eventually get better.

It always does.

But not right now.

Right now, things are going to get worse.

Probably much worse.

And maybe that’s for the best.

When I had cancer, my doctor emailed me to explain his chemotherapy and radiation treatment plan and he said this:

“I’m going to put you through six months of hell and you’re going to hate me, but when you live to celebrate your next birthday, you’ll love me. My job is to beat the hell out of a very specific part of you. Your part of the fight is to keep the rest of you as healthy as possible. Focus on that positive goal. Focus on your future.”

Our country has cancer right now. It’s not an outside infection that got through our immune system. It’s a part of us that mutated and has become malignant. It went undetected for too long, and now it’s a big problem.

It might be hard to see any hope right now. You might feel helpless and frustrated and have no idea how to fight against something that seems overwhelming. I get it. I have a suggestion that might seem counterintuitive, but hear me out.

Don’t fight with the cancer. Focus on the healthy part. Strengthen what’s good. Fortify the immediate world around you and hold your ground. You don’t have to fight with the cancer. You’re not going to feel better by repeatedly asking the cancer what is wrong with it. You’re not going to make it wake up and realize that it’s cancer by screaming at it. You’re only going to waste your own precious time and energy. More importantly, if you’re constantly yelling about how bad the cancer is, you’re going to weaken the healthy folks around you.

So if it seems like I’m ignoring the current storms, it’s because I am. The only way I can personally affect the negative is by feeding it. The best thing I can do is keep my own hope alive and eventually leave the world a bit better than I found it.

Take care of yourself first. Then take care of your friends, your family, and the tiny world around you. Protect it. Feed it. Nourish it. Grow it. Spread it. That’s where you’re needed. That’s your role in this.

As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”



Rev. Kimberley