This week, the struggling economy became even more real in our small little hamlet here on the St. Croix River, when our town bank was closed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver and the Central Bank of Stillwater took over all accounts. What really hit me in the gut was being directed from the old riverbank website to a “Failed Bank Information” website. While it is easy to say that people made grave mistakes, I just don’t see it that way. I cannot wrap my head around the word “failure” because it was just a few years ago when we were a burgeoning community on the cusp of growth and the RiverBank was a central feature of what we wanted our community to be. This was and hopefully still is a place where people want to live, and if not, open enroll their kids in our schools. It is a full community ripe with opportunities and expansion, and I know that I would have thought it inconceivable that this is where we would end up. And amidst the expected shock, sadness and mingled with a bit of fear for the future, I want to stop and take a breath, turn and try to look at it from another perspective.
When I studied the New Testament, there was a particular parable that I loved…the parable of the talents. In short, a master is going on a long trip and distributes some of his wealth to three of his servants, the first two take the money they are given build and grow it, the last, in fear of losing it and fearing the master’s wrath, buries it in the ground. When the master returns, he is pleased with the progress of the first two servants and blesses them with more abundance. The third he rebukes for doing nothing and letting fear take control and takes the original amount and splits it between the first two servants. I used to wonder at the strong language of the master toward the third servant, after all he didn’t lose the money, he kept it safe. I figured out that the message here is that safety is overrated. Taking risks and using the gifts we are given and building them into something greater is the expectation God has of us, doing nothing and staying safe is not. So when I look at all that the RiverBank has accomplished I don’t see a failed bank. Could any of us have foreseen what transpired in the last few years? While I’m sure in hindsight there is plenty that went dreadfully wrong, but there was also so much that was right.
So I say, rather that see this situation as a failure, perhaps as difficult as it might be, we all should try to see it as an opportunity to build something else, something even better. There is still an abundance of talented people out there, and it would be like burying treasure in the ground to do nothing, to stay idle. When this country has been hit with natural disasters, we come together and rebuild. How is being unfortunate enough to be in the path of an economic tsunami any different? We simply come together and rebuild. We take the talents we are given from the master and take the risk to grow and expand them once again. That is what I hope will happen in these dark times, is that we see beyond the fear of losing, and embracing what great gifts we have all been given and move on. My prayers are certainly with everyone in this time of transition, but if we hold on to a hope for a greater future, the struggle today will only make each of us stronger.