How Do We Respond?

Several weeks ago, in case no one noticed, our country experienced what seems to some of us to be a seismic paradigm shift as a result of the 2016 presidential election.  Upon these shifting sands, we are called to re-ground ourselves in our most fervently-held values, both personally and collectively.

The Mt. Tabor community sets aside one Sunday each month as a retreat day – a day of silent reflection, usually focused on a theme, book or article pertinent to the current situation.  Recently, this topic had to do with how each of us (given our personalities and circumstances) are called to respond to social change.  We loosely identified these “response types” as 1) activism, 2) direct service, and 3) contemplation.

As thought-starters we reflected on a reading on activism by Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.; an article about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy (direct service); and an article by Thomas Merton (contemplation).

We found that, while there is probably overlap among the three methods, most of us are pulled toward one more than to the others in trying to “change ‘the world’” or to “change the world for one person”.

So whether we march or serve soup or consciously try to connect with the divine through prayer and contemplation, the time for action is now – and God will companion with us in however we are called to respond!

 

– Sr. Mary

 

PONDERING SPIRITUALITY

Today is a community retreat day. The theme is the Monastic Instinct of Helpfulness. As is my habit, I was sitting in my room reading, meditating and writing in my prayer journal. I write my prayers in the form of a letter to Abba. It is conversational and helps me see the relationship between God and me and also the relationships I have with others—people I pray for, my family, my community and the world.

My letter started out with my definition of helpfulness and then a list of what I think is “helping” and what I think is not. Reading my responses I felt ashamed of my thoughts and asked forgiveness for my “awkward spirituality.” That phrase has not let me go.

When I hear the word awkward, I think of teenagers and how their growth, both physically and emotionally, is often termed awkward. They lack the absolute faith of childhood and the lived experience of adulthood. They neither believe in Santa Claus nor “are” Santa Claus but are somewhere in between.

In my awkward stage of spirituality I lean from “God said it, I believe it, that’s the end of it!” to “Everything is filled with Sacred Presence.” Afraid that letting go of one to grab on to the other will void my contract with God and I will, dare I say it, “Burn in hell.” It seems I swing from absolute to relative and back again just trying to find a comfortable place to land.

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe spirituality is supposed to be awkward. Maybe you aren’t supposed to get comfortable. Maybe God keeps turning the spit of my personal barbeque pit to keep me cooking but not burnt. Hmmm changed analogies there, but it fits.

The sun just came out so I think I will go take a walk and be spiritual outside for a while. It seems like I just gave myself permission to be awkward and to give myself a bit more time in which to grow. And I think I need a barbeque sandwich. I love retreat days.