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'Shattered dreams'

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Martin Luther King's sermon, "Shattered dreams," strikes a universal tone. Who among us has not known deep disappointment?

Dr. King points out that starting with slavery, African Americans have faced more than their share of shattered dreams. And he praises those who, rather than resorting to resentment or fatalism, manage to retain a life- buoying hope rooted in the Divine.

It's clear, though, that King doesn't think blacks have a corner on the market of balancing frustration with hope. His recipe for conquering disappointment is timeless, raceless, genderless. He writes: "Our capacity to deal creatively with shattered dreams is ultimately determined by our faith in God.... However dismal and catastrophic may be the present circumstances, we know we are not alone, for God dwells with us in life's most confining and oppressive cells" ("Strength to Love," pages 95-96). God dwells, King would argue, even with the oppressor, trapped in the narrow confines of hatred and fear.

That there's no guarantee of quick victory over evil is no excuse to give up. "We Negroes have long dreamed of freedom.... Some of us," he points out, "will die without having received the realization of freedom, but we must continue to sail on our charted course. We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope" (pages 92, 93).

Sounds good, but how do you do it? How do you remain hopeful when your dreams lie shattered at your feet? I'm no expert on the subject, but I've found comfort and instruction in these words by the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy: "We must resign with good grace what we are denied, and press on with what we are, for we cannot do more than we are nor understand what is not ripening in us. To do good to all because we love all, and to use in God's service the one talent that we all have, is our only means of adding to that talent and the best way to silence a deep discontent with our shortcomings" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 195).


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