This Must Stop

Stop Gun Violence Now.pngLast night I was perusing the CNN Exit Polls and discovered that 59% of midterm voters polled support stricter gun control measures.  I was sad to see that number so low, especially after all the amazing activism of young people after the Parkland Shooting and countless other senseless mass shootings.

Then today, just after reading about the latest shooting at a nightclub in California, I received a text from my sister.  It started out saying that my niece Eileen was dancing at the Borderline last night … the nightclub where the shooting I’d just been reading about happened.

my heart stopped.  what if?

I closed my eyes, said a prayer, and went back to reading the text.  She and the friends she was dancing with escaped with their lives after the first shots were fired. They have since discovered that at least one high school friend is among those killed.

Active shooter drills were not a thing when I was in school. I guess I should be grateful that my niece and her friends knew what to do in the moment.  Eileen told me that she’s not hurt, except for rug burns on her knees from crawling her way out to escape, close to the ground.  Of course her spirit is wounded.  As should ours be.  We allow this to continue to happen.

Yes, it’s a cliche that it’s different when something like this happens close to home.  And this certainly did.  My other niece lives down the hill from the club.  My sister is a professor up the hill from the club.  The shooter is from the town where they went to high school and where their little sister goes to middle school.

Given the lack of common sense gun laws, this will happen close to you one day too.

We must pray.  We must act.  We must join together.  We must make gun violence stop. Now. Seriously. Now.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, please read this column written by Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, two of the students from Parkland, that appeared in the Washington Post the day before election day and a few days before my niece escaped the Borderline with her life.

Over eighteen months before the shooting at our school, 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Four months before Parkland, 58 people were killed at a concert in Las Vegas. And on Oct. 27, 11 people were killed at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In all that time, not a single federal law has been passed that addresses gun violence. Not a single law. Our nation’s leaders have failed to protect citizens where they live, where they learn and where they pray.

As they note in their last sentence:  not only must young people (and All people) vote, “the day after the election, the real work begins.”
  • Be the voice of reason.  If you have friends who are part of the 37% who do not think we need stricter more common sense gun laws, tell them about my niece and her friends.
  • Bother the you know what out of your representatives in Congress, no matter what their party.

    My niece lived in Alabama as a child, and her Godmother who still lives there just posted on Facebook that she tried to call her representatives to call them to support gun reform that would have protected her Goddaughter and was HUNG UP ON.

    Not ok.  But they hang up … we call back.

  • We write.  We text.  We march.  We become a broken record and a strong loud voice speaking for every man, woman, and child who can no longer speak for themselves.
Because silence is not an option.

Even when

Even when twilight approaches and the clouds pepper the sky

And the trees stand firm and tall as their leaves show off their new bright colors preparing for their downward fall

Even then …

the sun peeks through the tiny spaces to shimmer and make the leaves glow as if from within

while the wind blows through the all of it, adding a symphony of sound to the moment

Even then, I stop in wonder and awe and gratitude, adding my Amen to that of creation

Global Sisters Report: The Hour for ‘Our’ is Now

GlobalSistersReportMy latest contribution to the conversation has been published over at Global Sisters Report: The Hour for ‘Our’ is Now

Our Father. Our daily bread. Forgive us as we forgive. Lead us. Deliver us.

This prayer that for decades I have said desperately at my most lonely hours calls us to be community. It is not a prayer to my Father for my daily bread and my forgiveness or deliverance. It is a prayer for the whole. As I have prayed this prayer anew in these days, I haven’t been able to get this sense of the collective out of my heart and mind. The hour for “our” is now. …

What would happen, I wonder, if instead of spreading negative energy in our conversations that contribute to the toxic levels of our current civic discourse, we practiced loving even those bits of the whole we struggle with? Speaking the truth in love, standing in solidarity in love, acting for justice in love.

Maybe this would lead us to deliverance, provide our nourishment and sustain us, help us to listen deeply for that which binds us together, no matter how small, in the sea of division.

Visit Global Sisters Report to read the whole reflection.

Today

Today I visited this blog and realized I’ve not written in a few months.  My recent yesterdays have been filled with much travel, work, visits, etc…  On the political and ecclesial sphere, it’s been a mess to say the least.  And yet, we live today, knowing tomorrow will have its own challenges and blessings.

I’ve found myself pondering the wise words of Winnie the Pooh from the recent film, Christopher Robin.  After an action filled adventure with its own ups and downs and share of uncertainty, Pooh and his friend Christopher (now an adult) are sitting together looking at the horizon.

636687282341597000-AP-Film-Review---Christopher-Robin.2

Pooh asks Christopher what day it is, to which Christopher replies, “Today.”

Calmly Pooh responds, “My favorite day.  Yesterday when it was tomorrow was too much day for me.”

Indeed.

These days

These days are not easy.
Not easy to be
peaceful
joyful
grateful.

Easier to be confused or worried or angry or sad.
All of which are ok–don’t get me wrong.

Righteous anger, after all
led that Jesus guy to overturn the tables.

Speaking truth to power
and standing with those on the margins
also led to the cross.

Those days were not easy either,
to be peaceful, joyful, grateful.

We humans have a way of making life complicated.

And yet the sun will rise this morning, I am sure.
Babies will laugh and puppies will snuggle.
Mothers and fathers will struggle to feed their kids
and keep them safe in this world.

And I will do my best to stay engaged,
and hopeful,
facing what’s what,
but also looking to what can be.

I open myself to God, who is Love.

In the words of Carrie Newcomer (Help in Hard Times, a great song by the way):

“And I believe in something better, and that love’s the final word,
and that there’s still something whole and sacred in this world.”

So my prayer this morning
before the sunrise
is that I may love
into these days and trust
that this is enough.
Amen

before sunrise

Hearts Wide Open

We need people with hearts wide open,
ready to take in the bad with the good.

We need brave and noble souls
who are able to discern where possibility lies,
who are willing to name the truth for what it is,
and who do the hard thing
with as much compassion as is possible.

The time is here and now.

We cannot wait
for the world to look the way we want it to,
we cannot wait for our vision to win out,
our party to be in power,
our narrative to dominate.

We simply face what is head on,
arms wide open,
living into what we know can be.

We have to face reality
even as
we do the little
and big things
we can do to transform it.

To bring about a world …

Where justice and peace kiss
Where families are free to stay together
Where love prevails
Where honesty is honored
Where diversity flourishes
Where we believe ….

The future is possible.

Our task is to show up
with our hearts – and minds –
as open
as possible.

599686878_23770998a8_z

 

Restoring Ourselves

When I was a novice, we participated each week in an intercommunity program with novices from other religious communities–men’s and women’s communities across the entire spectrum.  We gathered each week to learn about the various aspects of religious life.  When it came time to learn about the vows, the presenter shared unique perspectives present in the Constitutions of each community. That is when I realized that  the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace “recognize the value of leisure as contributing to restorating and wholeness.”

Now, of course, this is both common sense and good self care.  But we put it in our Constitutions! Not only that, we placed it in the section on the vow of poverty and in the context of work.

In solidarity with our sisters and brothers
we engage in human labor
as a means of service and sustencance.
We recognize the value of leisure
as contributing to restoration and wholeness.
In these ways we come to share
in the creative power of God.

(CSJP Constitution No. 54)

For Apostolic religious women, leisure is not the aim or the goal or the norm, but it is critical, so critical that it enables us to live our vow of poverty and be about the mission of peace with joy, and from a place of wholeness.  I write these words a few days into my annual summer vacation, this year a solo adventure to a spot that’s been on my bucket list for years … Prince Edward Island.

Yesterday when I was driving around a part of the Island where one of our CSJP Sisters was born, this view caught my eye and so I pulled over to take this picture:

PEIWorkLeisure

The perfect juxtaposition of the value of human labor, leisure, and the creative power of God.

Work is the norm, but sometimes we just need to stop and soak in the beauty to remind us that in the end it’s not up to us, but to the creative power of God.  And besides, we all need to stop and take some time to just soak in the sheer beauty and wonder of the world God has created, including us!

Slowing down to keep up

Things can seem to be spinning out of control these days

From the news cycle to the general frenetic pace of life

(and from meeting upon meeting in my own life)

To the growing inequality, systemic racism, uncivil discourse and general status quo which seems to inch farther away from the benefit of ordinary folks, especially those on the margins who Jesus loved so much.

How do we/I stay centered in the midst of it all?

To do lists, crisis management and holding the powers that be (and each other) accountable, to be sure.

But also kindness?

And looking with eyes of hope for signs of joy?

And slowing down

Yes, slowing down.

Slowing down to keep up.

Morning prayer (in early spring)

Morning sunshine beckons:

Sit here a while on the back steps.

Birds singing their hopeful song-

Spring is (maybe) here.?!

In other parts of the world near and far the hope seems farther away. Bombs dropping, visits to the oncologist or a family member in detention. Life.

The birdsong fades as police sirens sing in the distance.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Peace. Hope. Mercy. Love.

Pain and promise, mixed in this thing called life.

And the sun continues to shine.

The birds sing louder.

And I hope.