My prayer at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 plays in my head with “Flourishing (Psalm 119)” – a song by Sandra McCracken – as its soundtrack. So I did what I do and made a video prayer set to this beautiful song with some of my photos from 2018.
May we give thanks for all the ways we lived and loved in 2018 from our best selves, for the best of everyone
May we remember those times when we weren’t so able to be good and kind for whatever reason and resolve to try again
May we honor those we love and all we hold dear through our words and our actions for the common good
May we recognize beauty, Live gently, and flourish together as we walk in the way of peace.
Not a new word, but a word with a whole new embodiment of meaning. “The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. Our data shows that, along with a 45% rise in the number of times it has been looked up on oxforddictionaries.com, over the last year the word toxic has been used in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses.”
Among the top collocates to toxic in 2018 … toxic masculinity, toxic relationship, toxic culture. As I said in a recent interview, “We all know that toxicity is not good for us.” And yet it spreads, oozing out and choking our happiness like the fog of a group of looming dementors.
But we have a choice my friends. We can be kind, in our relationships, our words, our interactions, our ways of living. Every moment presents a choice. Let’s choose to be kind! Our very democracy and social fabric may depend upon our choices.
Sounds simple, but sometimes the most answers to the most complicated problems are the kind ones.
My Christmas card this year is a picture I took of a statue of St. Joseph “looking” at a Christmas tree lit up on the grounds of Bon Secours retreat center in Maryland that I took last year on retreat.
As I wrote in my Christmas Letter to family & friends:
I’ve been spending time talking to Joseph these days. In our CSJP constitutions we say about Joseph: “His courage to life a life of faith inspires us to trust in God’s abiding love, especially in times of struggle and uncertainty.”
Pope Francis writes about his own prayer practice with Joseph, and that he’s the one he goes to when he is “in a fix.” He writes little notes of problems that need fixing and slips them under a statue of Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter after all. When we spend time with the Gospel readings about the birth of Jesus, Prince of Peace, during the time of empire, we can see that Joseph understands what it’s like to keep on keeping on during challenging times.
We don’t often spend a lot of time with Joseph, but I think we all could use a little Joseph in our lives these days.
This Christmas Eve, I prayed with “As Joseph Was a Walking” recorded by Annie Lennox. If you want to spend some time with Joseph, here’s my video prayer reflection:
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.
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.”
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:
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!