It’s been harder than usual to focus on words this past week.
As I searched for words, I also walked,
reviewing and reflecting upon the sights and sounds in my world since the election.
For several weeks, I have looked forward to seeing Krista Tippett and Courtney Martin again, two friends I met through my work at the Fetzer Institute. I was invited to attend Courtney’s Minneapolis book launch for The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream.
Krista and Courtney have been speaking, with each other, with others, and with the world in the last decade through the amazing project now called On Being, which is a broadcast, a website, and a podcast.
Before an audience still dazed by election results, Courtney wondered aloud, “Should we even do this (a book launch)?”
Krista’s response was adamant, quoting from Sister Joan Chittister, reminding us that Benedict’s rule kept western literature alive in the sixth century, and that this kind of book holds that same potential for our time.
The air in the room got noticeably lighter. The sound of her voice was both calming and motivating.
Courtney then described how the book came to be. She has been searching for, and planting, “invisible seeds “of hope, trying to reclaim the best of what previous generations did in ways that are “humble, brave, and accountable.”
Much of that work focuses on friendships rather than accumulation of either status or things.
I became especially alert when Courtney talked about the value of inter-generational friendships.
After I finish the book, I’m sure I’ll have more jubilación thoughts to share here.
Another Voice of Hope
On Sunday, we listened to another voice just right for our times: Abbot John Klassen.
He directed our attention to these words of Jesus about how to live through dangerous, tumultuous, events.
“By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Abbot John linked perseverance to hope:
“Hope and perseverance are two sides of the same coin.
Hope without perseverance creates anxiety followed by disconnection.
We live at 30,000 feet, no longer connected to the world’s pain.
Perseverance without hope goes into resignation,
cynicism, and cold indifference.”
If you have even a few minutes to listen to his voice in a 2012 video, you will hear both hope and perseverance.
This last week has been hard.
I missed being with my family, especially with Stuart, who wasn’t even available by phone due to his two-week trip to Cuba.
But this community of Benedictines has held me.
Every day I have witnessed sights and sounds as signs of invisible grace.
My little community of Collegeville Institute scholars has been the strongest container. We watched the election returns together.
Now we are all seeking ways to respond with support for each other and for the vulnerable in our communities.
I was inspired to join my colleague Jessica in her desire to volunteer with the local refugee community.
Our first step will be making welcome kits together with our friends.
Secondly, our family has decided not to exchange names for Christmas gifts this year.
Instead, we’ll bring names of favorite charities and choose gifts for these, inviting Owen and Julia, ages 5 and 4, to help us.
What action steps are you taking to help our nation heal and to live your beliefs? Have you had conversations with family members, friends, neighbors who voted differently from you? How is that going? Please bring your imperfect offerings, as Leonard Cohen might say. We need to hear each others stories.