all I want for Christmas…

Building communities that practice understanding, loving-kindness and compassion may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of our world.

  • Thich Nhat Hanh

bell hooks on love

[A few years ago, Katie Gorrie introduced me to the writing and unique voice of bell hooks – the pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins who died yesterday. Some of you might have first heard of bell hooks from a class (probably taught by Katie!) or come across her writing on your own, but I’ve noticed several alumni posting tributes today to what they’ve learned from bell hooks. Here are a couple short but profound quotes that have been a part of our “daily rhythms”:]

  • “To know love we have to invest time and commitment….Dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of love — which is to transform us.”
  • “The practice of love is the most powerful antidote to the politics of domination.”
    • bell hooks

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.