Friday, July 17, 2009

Restoration of Beauty Begins at Home

by Sr. Guadalupe Medina

St. Bonaventure wrote once “Justice is the restoration of beauty to all that is broken.”
If that is true, then there is a lot of restoration that needs to be done. We are living in a society very much in need of restoration.

Every day we hear in the news about the violence taking place within our local neighborhoods. Our own places of worship -- which perhaps we felt safe in -- are also themselves becoming places of violence. Unfortunately the violence being done is not necessarily by strangers, but by people known by the victim for the most part.

When one person gets killed, or injured seriously etc., it affects us all. We are one with all humanity; whether we knew the victim personally or not, a part of us is taken.
We need not fear so much outside terrorists, because the biggest terrorist is within us. Neither borders nor security can keep it out, except perhaps ourselves if we have a change of heart.

Our values as a society are collapsing at a great rate. Therefore, if we truly love this world of ours which we call “HOME,” we need to not be afraid to speak for those who have no voice.

Families throughout our neighborhoods are hurting physically, mentality, spiritually and emotionally. The values which once held families together are constantly being torn down.

I believe it is important to take time to examine our own lives and ask ourselves: “how am I contributing to the restoration of beauty to all that is broken in society, starting with my family? Do I take time to be with my own family and be present to them, or am I so busy that I don’t even know what my children or spouse are doing or how they are feeling?”

You see, justice begins at home. When we treat our own family members with justice, justice will flow out into society. When we do not, that too, unfortunately, flows out into society.

The family reflects society. What reflection do you want society to see and experience? What reflection do you want your family to reflect back into society, one of destruction or of peace and authentic harmony?

It is never too late to start restoring beauty to all that is broken. Sometimes it is just a matter of stepping out of our comfort zone and doing it.

Take time this week and do something as a family. Enjoy the few weeks of summer that are still left to bring justice to your family.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gifts from Three Lives

By Joy Wallace

I went camping over the July 4th weekend, spending four days relaxing, reading, reflecting, hiking through the woods, playing in a creek to keep cool, exploring, and sitting by a campfire. Overall, the days were full of peace and quiet.

When I returned home and checked my e-mail, I learned that three friends had died while I was gone. They each added to my life and their gifts will remain with me.

Lou Boston: Lou was an active member of the St. Andrew Parish community. He was passionate about social justice, especially issues related to race! He was very influential at St. Andrew in keeping the dialog about race relations open, vibrant and meaningful. I remember having a conversation one day with him over coffee, about relationships between African-American and white people, and typical ways of communicating with one another. His words had a profound effect on me, and I’ve never been the same. Lou’s wisdom encouraged me to be more vigilant about my interactions with people of color, and opened the door to many unusual, unlikely encounters because he inspired me with courage and openness. Lou died of cancer.

Sr. Mary Medved, SNJM: I met Sr. Mary at a National meeting of Jesuit Volunteer Corps staff members, when she was the director of JVC International, and I was the Development Coordinator for the Northwest. Mary was so grounded that her groundedness spilled out onto others. She too was passionate about making a difference in the world for the underserved, and was very deliberate about her work. Sr. Mary was also an example of compassion. She too was a victim of cancer … a very painful experience for her. However, even at her most painful times, she always wanted to hear about you; how were you; what was happening for you. She inspired me with how she could be so present, grounded and focus on whomever she was communicating with.

Bonnie Tinker: Bonnie was an extraordinary activist. When she saw something that needed to be done, she got it organized in order to fix it. She worked for years to increase equality and respect for the gay community. She founded “Love Makes a Family” as a vehicle for her extraordinary activism to support gay families, children and relationships. Bonnie died in a bicycle accident when a truck ran into her while she was attending a faith-based conference in Virginia. Her unexpected death at 61 was a shock and the community lost one of its strongest advocates. Bonnie inspired me with her commitment and constant willingness to work ceaselessly for her causes.

Lou, Sr. Mary and Bonnie … I miss them. Portland will miss them. They added so much to our world. From each I received the gift of friendship, the gift of attention, and the gift of listening. They each modeled a commitment to increasing social justice through active service. My life is enriched by having known them and I will forever carry the gifts they left with me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Creation Is in Your Own Hands

by Michelle Dority Kroll

“It is our very nature to create.” –Matthew Fox

It is definitely in my very nature to create. When I see an object, I wonder, “how was that made?”

That is how our society has matured. It is the nature of humans to create. As a society we are constantly looking for ways to make things faster, better, stronger. While there are those who are looking to expedite life, there are those of us who work in reverse -- the crafters and creators of the world.

When I am in that creative state, I want life to slow down. I want to start from scratch. If I want instant gratification, I can go buy a basket or a sweater. But, isn’t it much more gratifying to use your own hands? Making it yourself you can produce it to your own specifications. What material will you use? A basket, made of reed? Wood? Pine needles? What yarn do you favor? Are you allergic to wool, but like the pattern? Create the item to your liking. The key is simply to create.

I hear some of you saying that you aren’t artistic or creative. Hafiz tells us that “all the talents of God are within you.” Maybe you can’t knit in a straight line, or weave with reed or wool. But maybe you are the best baker on the block. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. says “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.”

So what I say to you is find your street sweeper. Find your art, your craft, find that passion that keeps you going. For me, it is creating all things. I always have to have my hands in the pot of creation. Currently it is still knitting. But, my loom has been calling to me for some time now. So, perhaps it is time for more cloth. Whatever it will be, I know it will be made by me!

“Only creating can make us happy. For in creating we tap into the deepest powers of self and universe and the Divine Self.” –Matthew Fox

Friday, July 3, 2009

Coax the Pilgrim Soul Out of You

By Sr. Mary Jo Chaves

As many of you are aware, Joy Wallace and I will be leading a Pilgrimage March 4 – 15, 2010 to Rome and Assisi. You are most welcome to join us! It promises to be an experience that leads you to the center of your soul and spiritual journey.

You may be wondering what it means to go on a pilgrimage rather than a tour. There is quite a difference according to Doris Donnelly in her article: “Pilgrims and Tourists: Conflicting Metaphors for the Christian Journey to God” (Spirituality Today 44 (1992):22). Pilgrims perceive an internal dimension to pilgrimage while tourists are concerned with the external journey only. Pilgrims invest themselves; tourists avoid personal commitment. Both the journey and the arrival are important to the pilgrim. Only the arrival matters to the tourist. The focus for the pilgrim will be affected by the pilgrimage. Tourists seek to remain untouched on a deep level by their experience.

The difference between a pilgrimage and tour might be best illustrated through this Zen story. A river boat captain often took people across a large river to visit a holy shrine. The people on the boat could not wait to get to the shrine. After visiting the shrine, they would board the boat again and tell the captain how beautiful the shrine was. One day one of the visitors asked the captain if he had ever visited the shrine. He replied: “No, I am not finished seeing what the river have to offer yet.”

What is it that we might miss seeing as we go about the pilgrimage of our daily life? In these beautiful summer days that we are enjoying here in Portland, have we stopped to notice the beauty of creation all around us both during the day and during the night? I love to watch children in the summer. They run through sprinklers with absolute delight; they attempt to catch butterflies; they giggle as they notice the antics of a puppy or kitten playing in the sunshine or rolling in the grass and they sleep soundly after a day spent in the beauty of creation.

I invite you to become like a child and just notice. Be a pilgrim. Coax the pilgrim soul out of you!