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A reading from Radical Spirit by Joan Chittister

Random change, change for its own sake, change without purpose, can create an erratic society, an agitated life. It jerks us from new idea to new idea with no clear plan in mind. It can be exciting, yes. It can even be illuminating. But whether it can ever bring real substance needs to be an important concern. Otherwise we can find our lives at loose ends, lacking real, deep-down joy or a sense of genuine value, real belonging, a connection to continuing depth and a holy past.

I call upon the heavens and the earth to witness today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your descendants might live 20 loving the Lord, your God. (Deut. 30:19)

It's change that is undertaken with the tradition in mind that counts. And for that a sense of history becomes a kind of angelic guide through a desert of possibilities. Every spiritual community needs a community memory to help it trace the values and purpose that drove the high and low points of its development. It’s not what we did that counts. That’s simply traditionalism. It’s why we do what we do that is of the essence of tradition.

I call upon the heavens and the earth to witness today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your descendants might live 20 loving the Lord, your God. (Deut. 30:19)

To be alive is to try things. As John Henry Cardinal Newman put it, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” The reality of that insight is comforting. It is also clarion in its message. We learn as much from our failures as we do from our successes….  It is the memory of the community – its recollection of opportunities missed; its recall of life-changing risks that catapulted the community into a totally new life cycle of success – that makes change a sacrament of hope.

I call upon the heavens and the earth to witness today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your descendants might live 20 loving the Lord, your God. (Deut. 30:19)

More even than the memory of its history of change, the model of a community’s leaders becomes their legacy to the next generation. Their being able to link past and present and still maintain the quality of spiritual life is what moves us from era to era.

I call upon the heavens and the earth to witness today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your descendants might live 20 loving the Lord, your God. (Deut. 30:19)

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