Wednesday’s Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


 

Wednesday’s Word

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

The happenings of the past few weeks, multiple layers of wars and weather tragedies and political  machinations, find me with a cramp in the load-bearing muscles of body and spirit. How does a Christian, a Dominican, possibly live with and respond to the heavy clouds that bear down on us individually and corporately; how do we pray, how do we lift our voices in a Holy Preaching that brings truth and hope, how do we live and proclaim the Gospel of Peace?

Some of us have devised escape strategies, trying to ease our frustrations and anger and their contagion—we cut back on our daily dose of news and commentaries, and try to keep our conversations from “going there.” Some of us follow it all with that impulse for finding and telling the truth, though contending with the temptation to freeze into a particular focus and its blind spots, or the trap of over-righteousness. Some try to channel our energies to what action we can take, donating, writing letters or calling politicians, volunteering to drive,  to collect, to distribute flyers. We are brought to prayer, all of us, all the time, because a million voices call out for help and solace, for the basics of human life taken from them by weather, by war, by dehumanizing treatment. And as Dominic showed us, we pray as we weep and mourn in sympathy and solidarity: Have mercy on us, open our hearts, hear our prayer, save your people, forgive and transform us.

Decades, centuries, millennia of history have told us that ridding the world of “problem people” has proved to be horrifying and disastrous. And we know in and through Christ that God loves and holds precious each and every person. We hear today that  Jesus in Luke’s version of the “sermon on the mount” actually stood on the plain, stood level with them and among them and us (he said “You” ) and told the poor and beaten down and mourning and persecuted that God chose them and blessed them, even the very worst of them.  No wars—no horses and chariots, no arrows, no guns, bombs, or missiles—no walls or barriers or ghettoes or prisons or concentration camps—are part of God’s ardent arsenal of love.

There is a story that comes from the tales and sayings of the Rabbis. The Hebrews have passed through the Red Sea. The horses and chariots of Pharoah have gotten mired in the mud and drowned in the returning waters. On the other side, there is elation, singing and dancing: ”God, Our God, has saved us from our enemies!”  And as the festivity goes on  God comes to the one who is to lead them into the Promised Land, Joshua, and asks him, ”Why are you so merry? Why do you celebrate the deaths of the Egyptians? Don’t you know that they are also my children, beloved to me?”

In Christ there is neither Jew, nor Greek, nor national nor ethnic boundaries, nor political parties, nor skin color. No caste or class. In this time of division and destruction, we respond most authentically as we try to fathom the largeness of the Heart of God, the vast breadth and depth of God’s embrace. And that we are part of it.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Guided Tour of Creation (Cont.)

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Please click here for a continuation of Sr. Pat Connick’s guided tour of creation as a reflection of our Blessed Trinity.

Please click each link below to reference her previous blogs:

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Elusive?

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

The photo accompanying this blog shows our mascot at the Peace Center. She looks so peaceful right now, sleeping with her head on her paws, lost to the world. But let a noisy car drive by or a car door slam or a small rock skitter across the sidewalk and she will leap into the air, tail fluffed out and body ready to strike.

That is what peace can be like, too. It is elusive. It looks calming, feels good, but too soon it is destroyed in the rambunctious earthly shakeups we call isms: racism, heterosexism, genderism, ageism, et al. We seek the peace that will be forever; we pray for it almost daily, but it is in the day to day that we will find it if we take a breath before we speak, if we see the face of God in someone else before we reject them, if we don’t look down on the ones we deem different but raise them up as we raise our own selves and give praise to God.

“Peace is flowing like a river”, “Make me an instrument of your peace”, “Give peace a chance”—these don’t have to be just words from a song. We can make them words to live by each and every day.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

A Message from my Brother

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I’m a twin, in case you did not know. My sister Marge is married with two grown daughters and lives with her husband Mike in New Jersey. So hold that thought for a minute.

Last weekend, I visited my girlfriends for our semi-annual tradition of coming together for friendship and fun and just being together. We went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, a very small town about an hour west of Madison. It was so small we drove right through it without realizing that we should’ve made a turn in order to find this small arts community we were looking to visit. There were some interesting galleries, one of which was holding an exhibit of quilts from the AIDS Names Project. You might remember it.

I was immediately struck by them. Twelve feet square assemblages of six quilts handmade by the friends and family of those who died of HIV-AIDS. The gallery held some quilts of people from the local area. The whole Names Project holds 48,000 quilts and is the largest community folk arts project in the world.  It was on display on the Washington Mall beginning in 1987. My brother Paul’s quilt is among them and today is the 30th anniversary of his death. So when I saw the exhibit, I felt that he was reaching out to me.

I found a photo of his quilt on the Names Project Foundation’s website.

Now about my sister Marge. Unbeknownst to me, she found Paul’s quilt and ordered a framed photo of it from the Names Project. It arrived on Monday. She remembers going to Washington to see his quilt and signing the back of it. I think Paul was sending a message to her as well. The twins were channeling his spirit. Maybe it took two of us.

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, on exhibition at the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Today, so many memories are with me of Paul, how funny and playful he was.  Of my family, who was so supportive in the face of a society who, at the time, was openly hostile and hateful toward gay people. And even more despicable toward those who suffered from the disease to the point of funeral homes refusing to bury the dead. Really. Refused to bury them. For many, a distant memory now.

Today, I know a kind of breaking through, a connection across the veil, that is as real as a pinprick on my skin. Paul poked through and let us know that he is here. His smile, his inventiveness with electronics, his hopes of having his own business, his place in our family. I think he just wanted to let us know that all is well, he’s fine and happy and feeling loved.

As you might recall those you have lost, those who you remember as precious, know that there is only a thin veil that separates you. I hope you feel the pinprick, the way they sometimes poke through to us, just to say we are loved.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Blowing It: The Mystery of Vocation 

Here we are at Jubilee, rejoicing and marveling at 10 years, and 25 years, and 50 years, and God’s boundless faithfulness.  I’ve been thinking about vocation, and call and response, so here are some stories, of us and of God, that might plumb the mystery, which of course does not promise us more clarity….

A friend of mine, young in religious life and struggling with community and her ministry, came home from teaching Saturday catechism class and was dutifully attending to her charge, the community bathroom. She was putting newspaper down on the floor, and the page opened to the wedding section. She immediately recognized a friend from high school, looking beautiful in her bridal finery, walking out of the chapel at West Point arm in arm with her spouse splendid in his dress uniform, under an arch of swords.  And she said to herself, “I really blew it.”

Much later in life, she had a chance to see two old friends, long separated by time and space, and my friend told them this story.

They all had a good laugh, and one of them said, “O My! Well wait till you hear this!

It was four years into our marriage, and life was so hard.  My husband lost his job, we had 3 children under 4, and bills were piling up, we were falling behind in our mortgage payments, and I was totally a quivering mess. One evening the parish had a potluck supper in the grade school cafeteria, with all the kids and the noise, and the metal chairs scraping, and I glanced over and in a room off to the side I saw the sisters from the grade school around their table, and they were talking and laughing and enjoying their meal and  one another, and I said to myself, “Oh, I really blew it!”

Would this possibly resonate at all with you, in various moments of your Dominican life? Moments when your heart was just not so set on “Be it done unto me…”?

Have you said to yourself or a friend or an (often) shrouded or opaque God, after making a tough decision, or a loss, or changing a ministry, or losing your “cool” in a meeting, or saying something hurtful to someone dear—

“Oh, did I blow it!?”

In these  dark and confusing times when  the country and the world are  beset by hatreds and wars and so many little ones are suffering, and –well, you know the never-ending litany of woes—when we see how we have despoiled and poisoned Earth our Mother in this time being called the “sixth extinction;” when we see genocide and forced migration, and we are outraged and saddened and feeling both guilty and helpless amid this oh so huge and daily and casual evil – we can yield to cynicism and the temptation to withdraw from the words and actions of protest and healing.

When it is so obvious that humanity has blown it—we start asking ourselves about the best way to be faithful to our Dominican charism, and wonder whether we’re choosing the right path  as witnesses, as women and men of right action and truth-speaking, and ask again the nagging question: “Are we truly faithful individually and corporately, or have we missed something crucial somewhere along the line? Have we blown it?

Are we responding to the dual call of our OP roots and the call of the future?”

These are all moments of our vocation, an ongoing medley of call and response—God’s call to us, ours toward God, God toward us— and we learn (again and again!) that whatever surety we thought we had—however confident we are that God agrees with us– eventually get blown!

But our wrong turns and illusions are themselves paths to growth, however painful.

I did say growth.

And here is the reason: We blow it and  GOD BLOWS BACK!

As Isaiah 55 puts it: God’s word is faithful. “It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I sent it to do.”

And the breath of God—Spirit, Ruah—still hovers over the deepness, the darkness, the unknowns—some 13 billion years since the exploding of creation. And the Spirit continues to breathe life and promise and memory and strength and the fire of love.

The Spirit: who is still Sophia, Wisdom, playing before God in creation, and who is still and always a surprise, and provides another learning for us that “God’s ways are not our ways” and that we are painfully prone to keeping God at our size and manageable or agreeable to our dictates.

We have the Word, the Breath, breezing among us, and steadily growing us, enlarging our hearts, making of every ”We really blew it” a profound occasion for becoming what we receive—Words of God— very human, very flawed, but more and more identifiable with and hospitable to every human being who like us, “Blows it”–.

Becoming, each of us, a breath of the Spirit– imperfect Words, incomplete Love, yes, but through whom Christ never ceases to pour himself out, and in whom the Spirit never ceases to simmer.

And we are Words of memory and promise that God is faithful, and as Catherine of Siena wrote,” Mad with love for your creatures.” All this as we go on blowing it and giving God great delight in blowing back, blowing holes in our hearts, making space in our lives even as we might be mourning our failure, our confusion, our barrenness.

Here is the Mystery: that in our turns and tumbles, massive and minor, we are actually helping God form us in “The breadth and the length and the height and the depth of the Love of Christ which is beyond all understanding that we may be filled with the utter fullness of God.”

And in ways we don’t understand or notice, become preachers, become lovers, become Living Words.

So we gather as we grow, and celebrate together in wisdom and grace and joy and jubilation because as we “blow it”

God’s breath, Ruah, Spirit blows back –and in and around and among and through us, blowing all God’s people toward unity in love.

GLORY to God whose power/love/breath/ Peace

working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

Posted in Wednesday's Word