return of hope

[Here’s a second quote used by Margaret Anne at her Fireside Chat last week. This one is great to remember as the days get shorter these next couple of weeks:]

“The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our
planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we
will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As
we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects
of winter’s darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this
space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.”

  • from “A Celebration of Winter Solstice” in The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

wintering

[Now in her last weeks as our president, Dr. Margaret Anne Smith shared a Fireside Chat in which she addressed our term’s theme of “hope.” Given the time of year and the ongoing challenges of a pandemic, Margaret Anne shared some quotes that remind us of the role of hope in these harder and winter-darker days. This is the first of some quotes that I’ll share from her talk:]

Wintering is a way to get through tough times by chilling, hibernating, healing, re-grouping. “Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it is essential.”

  • from Katherine May, Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

joy or moralism

[So far this term I’ve slipped from the discipline of sharing passages here. Perhaps now I’ll make up for the lack of words with a longer excerpt from Geez magazine. Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett team up to bring joy and relationship to the task of anti-racism.]:

The two of us have kicked off countless anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings by asserting, not half in jest, that “diversity trainings ruin well-meaning white people.”

It’s the whole moralistic ethos that focuses on getting everything right and avoiding what is wrong: Never use this word. Always use that word…

For this we blame personal piety and the distorted moralistic theology it rode in on. This theology is endemic to the North American colonial project and inseparable from white supremacy and racial capitalism…. The goal, always, is to be one of the good ones, which means avoiding everything bad, such as failure, mistakes, body, sweat, sex, the earth, illness, pain, depression, movement, darkness, dance, grief, rhythm, cathartic joy – in other words, “the funk”….

Joy finds no place in moralistic religion. Joy is messy, unpredictable, kinesthetic, embodied, and erotic. It blurs boundaries wherever moralism attempts to draw them. Joy is inextricably interwoven within a relational universe, and it insists that right action be worked out, not on the sterile surgical table of moralism, but in the steaming cauldron of relationship….

This joy is not measured, careful, pre-planned; it has nothing to do with trying to be good. Joy is not synonymous with a stable position or sense of certainty; it meets us in the unstable and literally “unsettling” journey of decolonization.

  • Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett in “We Need the Funk” in Geez magazine.

a prayer after a hard year

God, you hold our memories of this past year in your capable hands. I imagine you’re weaving the moments that have shaped us into what will be a beautiful quilt, bringing all of the collective grief and the individual sorrow, the small delights and ordinary goodnesses, the moments we were afraid and angry alongside of the moments when we felt joy and contentment, all stitched together with your grace for it all. Wrap us up in the warmth of your love, knowing we are held, beloved, worthy just as we are in this moment.

We have been living in an apocalypse, Jesus, a true unveiling: help us to see clearly ever after this. Help us to name and remember what we have lost, what we have gained, and where we saw you at work in this broken and beloved world. Help us to be gentle with ourselves and with each other, we’re still not done yet. Help us to see the world more clearly and to love each other more particularly.

May we rest in that imaginary quilt of the totality of this year, be held by your grace, your love, your faithfulness, and your tenderness with us. May we always find you in the small ordinary things of our lives. May we always see the world as it is now and always, and love it all the more for the very things that break our hearts.

telling or being told

[On International Women’s Day – may all women be blessed to tell their own stories]:

We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.

– Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby