Please click here to read Sr. Pat Connick’s blog.
It is hard to say much that is new about giving thanks, and now the time is upon us when that is pretty much all we are hearing about. So, consider all you have; consider your families and friends; consider it all and…….
FOR ALL THAT HAS BEEN AND FOR ALL THAT IS TO COME.
On the way home from retreat, a long drive across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I found a podcast to listen to: On Being with Krista Tippett. I thought it might break up the 7-hour drive. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Krista interviewed two millennial women, Lennon Flowers and Rev. Jennifer Bailey, two of the founders of the Faith Matters Network, a newly-formed movement that focuses on sustaining the energy and passion of community leaders in social justice networks. According to their website, they “embody a particular wisdom of millennials around grief, loss, and faith.” Together they created The People’s Supper, which uses shared meals to build trust and connection among people of different identities and perspectives. Since 2017, they have hosted more than 1,500 meals. In the words they use, the practices they cultivate, and the way they think, Flowers and Bailey issue an invitation not to safe space, but to “brave space.”
“The People’s Supper is an initiative to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological, and identity differences, leading to more civil discourse.”
Lennon and Jennifer talked about their experience of organizing these community meals that bring very diverse people to the table to listen to each other’s stories. It does not begin with “Why did you vote the way you did?” It requires “brave space” where people are willing to share a meal that forms a bridge across the political, economic and social divides we know today.
How can you argue with someone’s politics when passing a basket of bread?
This idea of brave space transforms my idea of safe space. It is a movement from being secure to vulnerable, from armored to open, from guarded to curious. I wonder if brave space might be a way to build peace, by being peace in conversations we have (or don’t have) with people different from ourselves. Brave space calls us to look at one another with softer eyes.
This poem, taken from their website, inspired me and I hope it inspires you.
Invitation to Brave Space
By Micky ScottBey Jones
Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.
Maybe this could start something.
In March of this past year, I shared with you my fretting over my art project—the collages of the 6 peace doves–tied to my theological musings about the movement of grace and the unhindered surprise of the Spirit. I wanted the peace doves to be the Holy Spirit but they sat pretty, too static to express the “flowing, shimmering, gusting, blazing, cascading” sense I had of the spirit. I proceeded to write about both grace and the Holy Spirit as “an ever-recurring mystery. It is mobility, not stability, that underlies and supports the matter-ing that we are and which surrounds us.” My next piece would be an attempt to make visual the dynamism of the Spirit, that ever-moving and transforming force that we liken to wind, water and fire.
I’ve finished it. Of course my efforts have fallen short but when I finally got some long-awaited inspiration, it became a collage of prayer and play, and eventually I had to stop somewhere. I include a cellphone photo here, at a second remove from the project. And with it, a reflection based on the scriptural charge in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians ( I Thess 5) “Do not stifle the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit and the Invitation to the dance.
She is among us, Sophia, Shekina—
She plays here in our midst,
elbowing spaciousness into our crowded fears.
Will you deny her the delight?
Always be joyful, pray continually,
Give thanks whatever happens.
The dance of union, of new creation goes on
And we are awhirl in it, carried in it, borne up on it—
The singing wind, the lilting song
that led Dominic, Joyful Friar,
Along the Gospel path.
Will you join in the song? Will you try a new step?
Are you fearful, are you dreary, dragging, benumbed?
Sure it has all been said, nothing new under the sun?
Ah, do not stifle the Spirit—she burns and she sizzles
With Divine dreams, she comes to light in us a new fire,
To strengthen the weak, to encourage the weary,
To shake us awake! To limber us up!
To kindle our hearts! To lead us in laughter!
To twinkle in our eyes, to be hope for a new day.
Sr. Pat Connick explains intermolecular forces and phase transitions in today’s Wednesday’s Word. Click here to read her blog.