[From a book the faculty read together last academic year:]
“In our era, it is not enough to be tolerant. You tolerate mosquitoes in the summer, a rattle in an engine, the gray slush that collects at the crosswalk in winter. You tolerate what you would rather not have to deal with and wish would go away. It is no honor to be tolerated. Every spiritual tradition says love your neighbor as yourself, not tolerate them.”
― Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
[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.”
[After a Sunday in which Jesus’ prayer for unity was a part of the lectionary readings, alumna Chelsea Sosiak sent me this prayer by Merton]:
Prayer for Unity
O God, we are one with you.
You have made us one with you.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
you dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness
and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding
where there is mutual rejection.
O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you,
and we love you with our whole being,
because our being is in your being,
our spirit is rooted in your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways,
united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world,
and makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
– written by Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
[a follow-up to the last poem by Rachael Barham]
confessions ii : God responds
I don’t care
whether or not
you believe in me.
I believe in you.
I don’t need you to protect
my fragile sense of self
by defending me,
by ensuring I am the answer
to every question,
by twisting and distorting your precious soul
to accommodate this little image of me
that you’ve created but outgrown.
I am not small
and I don’t need you
to play small
or play safe for me.
Can’t you sense
that I am always
and calling you
to join me there?
Can’t you feel
this unstoppable force
carrying you towards
a love so powerful
that it is breaking your brittle heart
and remaking it
as a river?
Can’t you see
that I don’t exist
but always for you,
always for the other,
and that you are just like me?
and give in to the mighty flow of reality
which is love.
Let whatever is
Let your own beloved self
Whether or not you believe I am
Let me be
Let me be
– Rachael Barham – see her blog to find this and related poems
What happens really in the soul’s union with God in terms of liberation and healing? It is an exercise in seeing how God sees, the perception of what is little and unimportant; it is listening to the cry of God’s children who are in slavery in Egypt. God calls upon the soul to give away its own ears and eyes and to let itself be given those of God. Only they who hear with other ears can speak with the mouth of God. God sees what elsewhere is rendered invisible and is of no relevance. Who other than God sees the poor and hears their cry? To use “God’s senses” does not mean simply turning inward but becoming free for a different way of living life: See what God sees! Hear what God hears! Laugh where God laughs! Cry where God cries!
– Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance (2001)