The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power. The storyteller is the truthteller.
We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.
- Ursula Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind
[We learned a lot about the Corrymeela community in Ireland when Pádraig Ó Tuama was with us last winter. Corrymeela has been posting “Prayers for Community in a Time of Pandemic” that are worth following. This prayer was one that we read together at a recent SSU community meeting]:
God of the scales held in her hands, God of the scales that fell from his eyes: we pray for those who have waited far too long for justice; and for those who have taken far too long to see that systems said to be balanced and blind work for some but not for all. May repentance come quick, not from a fear of being condemned, but in the hope of being set free from the seesaw of us–them, win–lose, and from the blindness of seeing only what we want to be true.
[From a current SSU student – Note: The poetry collection, of which “A Ritual of Care” is a part, is meant to be fluid; shifting shape, emphasis and words to fit the needs of the specific gathering in which it is read. It is meant to be shared with a trusted group as it offers space to fully witness the realities of our time.]
A Ritual of Care
Hello, friends and family
You are most welcome here
Thank you for sharing this hallowed space
Today, we have the opportunity
To bear witness to one another
With all the courage that we possess
We will safeguard one another in care
You are safe here
In doing this
We honour the Creator, who connects us
We honour the child, from which we have grown
We honour our youth, those who speak earnestly
We honour our present selves, we, who are fully alive
We honour our elders, those who have walked this road before and know so much
We honour our ancestors, who we will become
As we bear honest and courageous witness to one another
Our compassion will overflow from our cup to each other’s
We will pass hope like mashed potatoes around a communal table
Our grief melting like butter
Saturated with our abundant tenderness.
Today, let our generosity extend to each other
Within this room and beyond
Let us lend our courage to see each one of us as beloved
We are one creation
Each of us, a whole being
And as we rest together, in the safety of each others spacious arms
We acknowledge our strengths
Our ability to care, deeply and without reserve
We honour our individual longings
And as we metabolize our collective sorrow
We honour each other as we step into compassionate action
May we take this opportunity to become
Tender Alchemist of our time.
- Marissa Wiebe – June 6, 2020
You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
[After a Sunday in which Jesus’ prayer for unity was a part of the lectionary readings, alumna Chelsea Sosiak sent me this prayer by Merton]:
Prayer for Unity
O God, we are one with you.
You have made us one with you.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
you dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness
and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding
where there is mutual rejection.
O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you,
and we love you with our whole being,
because our being is in your being,
our spirit is rooted in your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways,
united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world,
and makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
– written by Thomas Merton (1915-1968)