discovering a more complete truth

[This weekend was Convocation weekend at SSU, and our Convocation Address was given by Dr. Lois Mitchell, who is retiring and accepting the title of Professor Emerita of International Studies. In her address, she referred to the Don’t Call Me Resilient podcast of Vinita Srivastava, and in this passage below to a quote in that podcast from Rev. angel Kyodo williams]:

… But Rev. angel says that activists are not so much devoted to a cause, but to uncovering a “more complete truth.” Truth – as I’m sure you’ve discovered – is wonderfully, annoyingly, flirtatiously… elusive – we “see through a glass darkly.”

There’s lots of talk of activism these days and that excites me, as we encourage young people to become advocates and activists for social justice. But it also concerns me. Are we also equipping them to discover a more complete truth? I wonder if we sell activism short when we let it be about single issues or causes – racism, reconciliation, climate change, poverty, etc. etc. – or some subset of these larger issues, and not about a determination to get to the “wholeness” of a cause in all of its inherent and historical complexity. Do we tell them that it takes patience and determination to comprehend inherent and historical complexity?

  • Lois Mitchell, Professor Emerita of International Studies at SSU (You can read her whole Convocation Address here.)

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

unsexy caring

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”   – David Foster Wallace

[This is apparently the birthday week of the late novelist. Thanks to the Englewood Review of Books for drawing attention to the quote.]

pandemic acedia

…All of this helped defeat me acedia – mostly because it connected me with other people, and acedia thrives on dis-connection. It suggests that we roll up in a ball, because we’re all alone in the world, and no one cares. Instead  I signed up for webinars and concerts, events that I never would have been able to attend in the Before Time. I began gathering on Zoom with friends. I attended church online and found that although worship on Zoom is dreadful it’s better than nothing. All of this served to take my mind off myself and my troubles, and stop acedia’s deadly spiral of self-absorption and despair.