[For International Women’s Week, I plan to post a passage from the writings of different women each day. Then I’d love to keep focusing on the thoughts and words of women throughout the month – send me ideas or post suggestions in the comments! I’ll start with this favourite passage of mine from a novel by Barbara Kingsolver]:
You’re thinking of revolution as a great all-or-nothing. I think of it as one more morning in a muggy cotton field, checking the undersides of leaves to see what’s been there, figuring out what to do that won’t clear a path for worse problems next week. Right now that’s what I do. You ask why I’m not afraid of loving and losing, and that’s my answer. Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work – that goes on, it adds up. It goes into the ground, into crops, into children’s bellies and their bright eyes. Good things don’t get lost.
Codi, here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running up and down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.
– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams (novel)
To bear the times pressing upon us, our children need a larger hope. They need a larger, more gracious vision than a veiled set of instructions for skirting the vortex of death by shoving others in. To keep their hearts open in the rising tide, their imaginations need a bigger boat. Rational self-interest isn’t going to get them across the troubled waters ahead. The odds against them are stacked too high. The hope they need is not rational. To have real, embodied hope, to resist the unmaking of the earth and its goodness, will require of them not acts of reason, but of acts of faith.
We have no right to ask our kids to make the hard sacrifices necessary for a viable future when we have been so busily sacrificing that future for our present. We cannot make them proposals of calculated benefit, suggesting that they fight for social justice and environmental protections because otherwise the economy will fail and leave them bereft. This makes no sense to them, because they can see that the economy is already failing and will likely leave them bereft regardless. There remains no reasonable cause for the self-sacrifice and courage that a livable future asks of them. Their choices are apocalyptic: to fight unto the end, or to love unto the end.
[Apologies to Canadians that the link is for Amazon US but Friesen Press doesn’t seem to have their relationship to Amazon Canada streamlined. Canadians might be better off trying Commonword.]
[a quote from the ending of the new book written by David Moore, pastor in Santa Barbara and adjunct faculty at SSU]:
Away with graceless Christianity, so full of suspicion and devoid of mercy! Out with the old and in with the new hope of Jesus. Even with its persistent sorrows, ubiquitous disappointments and lingering aches of the soul, life is hopeful. This will be realized increasingly in the days to come as more of us discover how not alone we are. Faith is generous. Hope is strong. Love is limitless. There’s no need to be selfish and stingy because the supply only increases, and access to it, as we share.
[a poem by SSU ministry student, Jessica Williams]:
Find me in the Darkest Night
afraid of flight
praying to the God of Light
to find me.
Find me when my head’s bowed low
turned from Love
and all that glows
when shadowlands have gathered slow
to find me.
Find me in the shame that grips
when ancient roots
arise and trip
eroding paths I thought
were sent to guide me.
Find me where the Thistles Bloom
as Pain and Beauty
holding space, creating room
within my heart
to find You.
It is there I recognize
You’ve been inside
that’s come along
beneath this Sky
to find me.
We will name them
large and small
I am held
within them all
even as I rise and fall
to find You.
Help me then to keep my gaze
on what is here
within this Place.
This is where I know your Grace,
this is where I see your Face,
this is how I find You.
– Jessica Williams
[Just after Pentecost Sunday, I recalled this reading describing the experience of the Holy Spirit in the base communities among the poor in Latin America]:
Then they have this experience: suddenly they begin to act; they discover that they themselves are capable of action. Before, they had no plans, no projects for the future, only frustrated dreams. They had no confidence in their own judgment, in their capacity to plan and gain practical knowledge of the world. They followed custom of the instructions of their masters. Now they discover that they are acting for themselves, discover that they are capable of setting and seeking goals, of achieving objectives….
It is a matter of experience undergone by a community of people who feel that something new is coming about in their midst.
- Jose Comblin, The Holy Spirit and Liberation (1989)