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.

restoring imagination

[As the possibilities of “post-pandemic life” slowly emerge, this excerpt from Shelly Rambo’s insightful theology of trauma seem applicable. How do we restore “embodied practices of imagination” at this time?]

The practices of sensing life are embodied practices of imagination. When Bessel van der Kolk speaks about the path of trauma healing, he says a primary bodily connection to the world needs to be restored. In the course of his research he has discovered that, of all capacities lost in the experience of trauma, the loss of imagination is perhaps the most devastating. For trauma healing to happen, the capacity to imagine one’s life beyond a radical ending, to imagine life anew, must be restored. “The degree to which we are successful, as clinicians, is the degree to which we can restore these capacities of delight, hope, and imagination,” he says. Restoring the sense of trust and meaning is not purely cognitive; it involves instead a different sense of the world. Sensing life is this kind of reconnecting process; it is an exercise of imagination in the face of what is unimaginable.

This second movement of Spirit witnesses a process of coming into life, of sensing it again. The Spirit’s witness, here, is to forms of life that are less discernible, more inchoate and tenuous, than visible and secure.

  • Shelly Rambo, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining (2010, p.162)

solitude and community

[As we start to imagine and then experience an emerging “post-pandemic world,” we’ll all be renegotiating our relational lives. Perhaps this word from Parker Palmer will help]:

If we are to hold solitude and community together as a true paradox, we need to deepen our understanding of both poles. Soli­tude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people-it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others. Community does not necessar­ily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never los­ing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people-it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.

– Parker Palmer, from A Hidden Wholeness