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Cultivate the Pearls Given to Us by Our Mothers

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I was recently watching an interview with Denzel Hayes Washington Jr., as he called himself.

The interviewer recited a list of awards he had received and asked: “What’s left for Denzel Washington?”

Denzel, as we call him, said “Man gives the award. God gives the reward. That’s what my mother raised me on. So, I like awards. We all wanna be loved! You know, you work hard and you want people to appreciate what you do. But that’s not what I live for.”

Kudos to Denzel’s mom for her words of wisdom.

A week later, those words still reverberate in my mind and heart and cause me to reflect on the pearls of wisdom that my own mother shared with me.

With Mother’s Day coming on Sunday, perhaps this is a fitting time for all of us to reflect on the lessons that we learned from our Mothers.

Here are a few of my mother’s gems (some of which I’m sure you’ve heard before):

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Never lose sight of who you are. Be true to yourself. Never change who you are for someone else.

Learn to say no. You can’t do everything.

Have faith in God and trust yourself to do what is right.

You don’t have to look up to anyone, but never look down on anyone.

People who seem to be the least lovable, need love the most.

Listen (and think) before you speak.

Be the best that you can be.

There are certainly many more and I hope, by now, some that were passed on to you by your mother have come to mind (Always wear clean underwear. Learn to laugh at yourself. Be grateful for what you have. Never eat yellow snow. Mind your manners, etc.).

This will be my third Mother’s Day without the physical presence of my Mother. But the things she instilled in me will remain with me forever and live on through my daughter (as I strive to pass on the wisdom).

If you are blessed to still have your Mother with you, take the time to show her love each day.

If, like me, you can no longer pick up the phone to call her or feel the warmth and comfort of her embrace, know that she lives on through you. You are her legacy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the strong women who have made us who we are.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Praying with or without Words

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

I have had a laminated picture card in my prayer book since the 1990’s. When we received our long awaited copies of DOMINICAN PRAISE in 2005, I transferred the card to the back of my see-through protective cover, and it has been there ever since. Given to me by a friend sister artist, I especially like its colors and design, but have not given much thought to the quote printed on it until the other day.

It reads: “PRAYER is not so much about talking to or addressing God, but rather about deepening our awareness that GOD—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  [author undecipherable]

That day for some reason, it held my attention and stayed on the periphery of my mind for several days, inspiring me to review the evolution of my own personal prayer over the years.

As a young Sister and for several years, I wrote out my prayer as a monologue or dialogue in a journal, sharing all my troubles, concerns, joys and everyday happenings with God as with a best friend/Divine Counselor. It started as a way for me to stay awake and focused during my personal prayer time. Gradually my prayer with many words led to more frequent silent pauses of insight, appreciation, awe, and longer periods of wordless contemplation.

Praying without words made me wonder if I was praying at all; I was so used to using words. But my spiritual director encouraged me to trust my wordless heart prayer as much as my mind’s prayer of many words.

Our daily Common Liturgical Prayer–Mass and Liturgy of the Hours—uses hymns, psalms, prayers, readings; along with signs, symbols and actions—to express and celebrate Christ, our faith and reality as Church, and to draw us into awareness of God, into communion, transformation, silent adoration.

On Saturday, April 14, as our Mission Group meeting opening prayer, Mary Otho, OP, led all of us assembled in a time of contemplative prayer. Inviting us to quiet ourselves and enter our “inner room” where we come into God’s Presence, she then used the triple ringing of a gong to signal the beginning and end of 10 minutes of “prayer without words.” Slowly repeating “I AM,” (God’s name and ours) helped me quiet my busy mind, and call me back to silent presence when distracted. Gradually the “I” dropped off to simply “AM.” When the gong sounded to end the prayer time, it seemed a surprisingly short 10 minutes.

Surrounded by 80+ other Dominican Sisters of Peace united in silent wordless prayer, was peaceful and sacred–prayer “not so much talking to or addressing God, but rather deepening our awareness that God—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  Word made flesh. Body of Christ. That is what it’s all about. My card has been waiting all these years for me to discover its message!

Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, “radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ,  commit ourselves to be women [and men] of peace who: study, contemplate, and preach God’s revelation discovered in the unfolding mystery of creation and in Sacred Scripture.”   — 1st Chapter Commitment, 2009 and 2015

 

How do you discover God’s revelation?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Holding Up The Light of Truth

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is scheduled to open this week and I’m wondering if America will ever own her racial terrorism.

I am afraid that if we, as a nation, don’t confront our history, we will never be free to experience peace and justice. After all, our past – no matter how ugly — informs our present and guides our future.

For me, the Starbucks fiasco that resulted in two black men being handcuffed and arrested for what appears to be “making a white woman feel uncomfortable” is yet another symptom of our inability to even acknowledge that we have a problem with race in America.

I applaud Starbucks for trying to get out in front of the issue. But please excuse me for skeptically believing the effort is more about the bottom line and protecting the brand than about impacting our culture of systemic racism. I’m just not sure how much “training” it will take before we resolve that black and brown people should be treated like human beings.

I’m not blaming Starbucks, but I do want people to understand that what happened in Philly is indicative of what black folk experience on a daily basis. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing this was a one-time atrocity perpetrated by one bad manager.

It’s not about one bad store. It’s not about one bad employee at a store. It’s about systems. It’s about our culture in America.

Unfortunately, white folks’ “uncomfortableness” with black and brown folks has resulted in the arrests, incarcerations, beatings, and killings of multitudes of innocent brown and black people.

I am encouraged by the Equal Justice Initiative – a group dedicated “to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society” – for making The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial of Peace and Justice a reality.

When the memorial opens on Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., it will become the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, blacks humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence

The memorial, which commemorates the lives of thousands of black people who were lynched in the United States, sits on the site of a former slave warehouse. The museum is near one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America.

The hope of EJI is that by honestly confronting the truth about our legacy (of slavery, lynching, segregation, and injustice), we will take steps toward recovery and reconciliation.

EJI Director Bryan Stevenson puts it this way: “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”

My hope is that we are not too uncomfortable or too tired to help hold up the light of truth.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

LIFE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

This morning as I stepped outside our backdoor to share some seeds with the birds, I was surprised by what I saw! Colorful life in an unexpected place.

Last fall, Cathy Arnold, OP had planted countless jonquil and tulip bulbs in our front garden, and we were anticipating a colorful outlay of yellows, reds, whites, etc. come spring. But when the tree fell on our house in early March, the clean-up and repair necessitated the entire garden and sidewalks be dug up to replace broken pipes.

Cathy had asked if the men could save any bulbs they came across in their digging if it wasn’t too much trouble. They pleasantly obliged, and placed what they found in a white bucket for later replanting.

So this morning, the sight of two bright jonquils and an unopened yellow bud rising out of the bucket of tossed together bulbs, caught my eye and took my breath away! A precious moment to simply pause, savor, and feel praise, joy, and gratitude well up in me, as I contemplated colorful life in this unexpected place.

Last Friday in the Akron Beacon Journal, a commentary Congress achieves something big caught my eye–much like seeing life in an unexpected place. I guess I had pretty much given up on anything good or life-giving for the common good coming from our deadlocked bipartisan congress, so I read on and was happily surprised.

Marc A. Thiessen wrote:

Many Americans despair that Republicans and Democrats seem incapable of coming together to do anything important.

Take heart–the two parties just did do something big together. Wednesday, (4.11) President Trump signed into law the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. A bill designed to crack down on websites that knowingly facilitate the online sex trafficking of vulnerable persons, including underage boys and girls.

And the FBI, informed by evidence collected during a nearly two-year bipartisan investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, just seized the website Backpage.com—which the Center for Missing and Exploited Children says is responsible for 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives each year—and arrested seven of its top executives.

Hurray! Life continues to show up in unexpected places!

This Easter Season is especially dedicated to celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. And the many stories of Mary Magdalene and the apostles meeting or discovering Christ and New Life among and within them—prepare our hearts to seek and find God in unexpected ways and places.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” How and where have you discovered LIFE in ways/places you didn’t expect?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Love is Worth Emulating

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Fifty years ago today, one of the most influential figures of the 20th century – the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — was memorialized and buried.

During a private funeral service (at the request of his widow, Coretta Scott King) his “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon — a prescient reflection on his own funeral — was played on a tape recorder.

The sermon had been delivered two months earlier by Rev. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where the private service was held) .In it, Rev. King verbalized the fact that many people want to be important and aspire for recognition and to be first.

He called the aspiration “the drum major instinct” and proposed a different way to channel that ambition – through a life of service.

Rev. King (perhaps prophetically) concluded his sermon by sharing what he would like to be said about him at his own funeral:

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize— that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”

Amen!

As we commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Rev. King, fifty years after his death, may we never forget to honor him daily by practicing the same radical love that he embraced and shared with others.

Posted in Associate Blog, News