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Regarding Resilience

lent resilience spiritual formation Mar 27, 2024

A friend recently remarked on my “buoyant spirit.” It’s true: I can feel all kinds of dread, sadness, regret, guilt, grief, anger, fear, and agony, and then, right in the midst of it, I can bounce back to emotional equilibrium. I can’t help it. Wind in the branches, a toddler stooping to look at a bug, buttered toast, even a lively tune looping while I wait on hold. How can it be that such little things make me bounce back? Am I that distractable? Shallow? Dismissive?

I had always thought “resilience” meant buoyant, like a memory foam pillow or the boing-y tummy of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Remember those little toys called Weebles?  As the jingle goes, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” I simply assumed that the whole point of resilience was not to fall down.

Here at Wisdom Tree Collective we’ve been talking about resilience as our theme this year, and I have learned something important. There is another meaning to the word resilience. Especially in the context of spiritual formation, resilience is not simply about recovering from a challenge or upset. Resilience names that deep, transformational work of growing through hard times. It’s about learning to see things a new way, shifting old patterns of interaction, letting forgiveness and renewal and compassion change us. Falling down is to be expected. Once down, though, we can look at the world from a different perspective. Bearing the impact of the transformational experience is required. Once marked, we’re invited to imagine new possibilities, ask deeper questions.


We’ve been teaching and practicing resilience all along in our spiritual direction training course, in our classes and retreats, and in dreamwork. It’s easy to grasp and hard to master.

Here in Holy Week, I’m remembering a story I heard about a man who dreamed he was in the tomb with Jesus. He felt honored to be there. They laid side by side, not dead, just waiting for the Resurrection. It was quiet and peaceful, with a feeling of holy simplicity.  I wonder when it’s going to happen, the dreamer began to think. He waited, maybe wondering about the angels, the stone rolling, the trumpets and all. More time passed. 

Finally, he whispered, “Hey Jesus. When do we get out?”

Jesus replied, “Buddy, that is entirely up to you.

As a friend of mine says, I’m going to leave that right there “where Jesus flang it.”  

Resilience blessings to you this Holy Week. 

—Laura Huff Hileman, WTC Director for Programs in Dreamwork and Spirituality


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