Weekly Word

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


 

An Invitation to Brave Space

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

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
But
It will be our brave space together,
and
We will work on it side by side.

Maybe this could start something.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Reprise: Is Grace a State? Does the Holy Spirit Sit for Portraits?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

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.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Blog by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Reading 1 Rom 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Gospel Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.’
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

PREACHING

ROMANS 6:8:26-30                LUKE 13:33-30

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for I many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

What is keeping each of us from entering through the narrow gate? Is it the stuff we have? Yes, we have given our lives to God. But if we look around us, we do have a lot of material goods. Some of them may be pictures of family, memories of past ministries, mementoes that we cherish. For example, I have a small statue of Mary that my Dominican aunt gave me when I was a child. At some point it will be time to let go of it. I can pass it on to a family member with its story. Or else someone who doesn’t know its history will discard it. There are other things we have that don’t have a lot of meaning. My guess is that we don’t use many of them. They just take up space in our room and offices.

Maybe the stuff we carry isn’t material. What about our attitudes? It is so easy to continue to let ourselves fall into the same old patterns of reacting to situations. What about that person I am still holding a grudge against? Maybe that grudge is that taking up a lot of space in my heart.

Then there are my good intentions – the ones I never seem to be able to carry through. They take hold me back from being challenged to grow.

When we do muster the courage to let go of those things – material or not – we believe that the Spirit will guide us. Then we won’t need to worry about whether the gate is narrow or wide. We will be living as God, who loves us intimately and without hesitation, has called us to live.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Watching and Waiting

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

Most of us down here in New Orleans have been watching and waiting for the last week or more. A building’s partial collapse resulted in closure of main downtown streets impacting tourism and regular business hours and people’s livelihood. How long before things would return to normal? We know now that it will be longer than we hoped.

Our eyes have been on the skies as dire weather forecasts for everything from tropical storms to tornadoes to flooding rains kept scrolling across the TV screens. We know now that most of those predictions passed us by for the most part, but for how long?.

The Gospels for these days have had significant reminders that we do not know the hour nor the day when the “Master” will come. We watch and we wait. How much longer?

Some days are more trying than others in family life, work situations, day to day decision making, and we often wonder how much longer before….before we have peace; before we have success; before we have whatever it is that will mean our waiting is over? The Gospels tell us we know not that hour or the day, and we must be vigilant. In the end our true hopes will be realized, and in God’s time all will be well. Keep watching and waiting!

Posted in News, Weekly Word