“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The idea of beloved community is so desirable and yet challenging to attain. The Center for Action and Contemplation shared a weekly set of meditations HERE that includes quotes from several noteworthy figures. They make clear that we are frequently left wanting more action than we’re necessarily ready to take.
Consider checking out the summary and clicking on a particular day(s) to read more. Tuesday’s is particularly good, including this commentary:
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw clearly in the last years of his life, we face a real choice between chaos and community—we need a moral revolution. If that was true fifty years ago, then we must be clear today: America needs a moral revival to bring about beloved community. ~ William J. Barber II
Check out one or more of the daily topics of interest from the CAC summary HERE
Praying the Community into Being is a practice listed HERE (towards the bottom of the webpage). Consider trying it out, listening to the music and maybe drumming along?
“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-24
This is good news for us in this age of focusing on sustainable resources: God’s faithful love is renewable – again and again and again!
In that context, the author then provides perspective on our responsibility to share in the midst of this sustainable love:
“When I’m mad or sad, God’s love and kindness hold me. And because these gifts never run out, there is enough for me to share them with others. … There is enough of God’s faithful goodness for all of us. Thanks be to God!” ~ Meredith Forssman
If you have an extra few minutes, check out the full post HERE for additional material.
PRAYER: Dear God, as we go about our days, help us to do it with praise. When problems arise help us dare, to unselfishly, boundlessly share. Amen.
One of Bob’s ideas – incorporating podcasts or recordings – resonates for many. Or, if you’re a visual person, consider posting a prayer list or photos right in front of you on your exercise machine or where you do stretching – they can help channel your thoughts to particular prayer situations
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to rejoice in the opportunities to pray, while at rest and while exercising too… Amen
Enjoy the day and the plethora of opportunities to exercise your body, mind and soul while filled with the Spirit!
[Fannie Lou Hamer is] a contemplative exemplar because of her spiritual focus and resolve. Her practices spoke to the depth of her contemplative spirit. In the face of catastrophic suffering, Hamer worked, loved, sang, and resisted the powers that be. She was jailed, beaten, and hunted by the enforcers of the social order after registering to vote.
This description of “rest” from the CAC post, in the context of Fannie Lou’s life, is compelling:
According to her friend Virginia Gray Adams, “her back hurt and her spirit waged war without proper food or medicine. So when the movement came, there was rest”—not the rest that pervades the lives of most contemplatives [or what many imagine of monks and mystics], but rest nonetheless. Rest as you tell Congress to let your people go. Rest as you testify and lead a delegation off the floor of the Democratic Convention.
In the U.S. today there will be a number of Strike for Black Lives events. May all feel rested when in the state of activity, whatever non-violent efforts those strikes may involve (opportunities HERE)
“Doubting, asking questions, struggling to believe — these are not signs of human failings, but are human experiences. The challenge for us is, perhaps, to continue to engage our struggles, to face our fears, to wrestle through the night — and, during those dark nights when we cannot feel or believe that God is present with us, to continue the work that was set before us.” ~ Comments by Beth Richardson, in “From the Editor” note, Alive Now – March 2016.
In this same note, Beth talks of doubts and tells of Mother Teresa and the doubts she describes in her own private journals and letters. This Time.com article about the book of Mother Teresa’s life – Crisis of Faith – is fascinating and includes this comment:
Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”
WOW. Guess it’s not surprising that the saints of our age – even you and I – might have a little doubt, when saints before us have some of their own! As “way show-ers” of today, with prayer and purpose we can allow God-in-us to help guide our thoughts and actions, even in those times when intimacy with God seems almost absent…
Two noteworthy portions of the article (though we encourage reading of the entire devotional:)
“The contemplative moment comes as the cause of the blues is considered within the broader context of God’s inexplicable absence or startling intervention.”
“When Miles Davis blows the cacophony that can barely be contained by the word song, we come closest to the unimaginable, the potential of the future, and the source of our being.”
Music provides wonderful therapy. As we contemplate the blues and celebrate jazz, may the Spirit move through us in unimaginable ways!
ACTION: The article mentions: “… I invite you to listen (and perhaps dance?) to B. B. King or Miles Davis as a contemplative practice.” Here are a couple of tunes as possibility for that listening/dancing:
The legacy of Mister Rogers is substantial and tackling the issue of racial tension was something he did “head on.” Included HERE is a summary of those efforts with Officer Clemmons. It’s wonderful to experience the video clips again with commentary.
Few of us have the exposure to millions of children the way that Fred Rogers did. Yet, each of us can make a statement about the importance of racial equality with our actions, one person at a time.
POSSIBLE ACTIVITY: if you haven’t started the 21-day racial equity challenge, it’s not too late. Check it out HERE
PRAYER: Dear God, Help me to not be too defensive when someone questions my comments or actions that might be racially inappropriate. Continually guide me to new understanding of my background and how I can make our world a better place for people of color worldwide. Amen
The legacy of Mister Rogers is substantial and just the other night was another example of his influence. While Zooming with dear family members, the youngest in our gathering got upset. We then watched her mom suggest that they might do “the Daniel Tiger.”
What happened next was marvelous. They did Daniel Tiger…and again…and again. Then we all were ready for discussion of our next topic.
What is “the Daniel Tiger?”
“When you get so mad that you want to roar,
take a breath … and count to four!” ~ Fred Rogers song
An animated version is HERE – it is well worth the 1 minute to watch.
Then, maybe it’s time to practice this and/or share the approach with others in the days ahead? It’s worth a try, especially for those of us with a shorter fuse than we might like…
PRAYER: Dear God, When the anger level starts to rise, help us remember the Daniel Tiger so we can help ourselves diffuse the anger and then leap forward to Christ-like action. Amen
A recent summary of the Presbyterian (PCUSA) 2020 General Assembly meetings includes two particularly noteworthy highlights: 1) support for Black Lives Matter & Poor People’s Campaign and 2) using the image of the sankofa**
The mythical Sankofa is particularly useful for those appreciating visuals. A quick sankofa description (more HERE) is:
The word “sankofa”, from the Twi language of Ghana, represents the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future, and translates as “Go back and get it”. The bird is known for flying while looking backwards!
As the Presbyterian (PCUSA) church moves forward, the leadership understands the importance of reflecting on wisdom from previous decisions. Sound advice for a denomination that has dealt “head-on” with many social justice and other issues over the years.
Perhaps mention of the sankofa offers each of us an opportunity too!?!?
take a little “sankofa time” – reflect on your past relating to a key topic
For those in the U.S., this might be taking time to reflect on your life experiences relating to racism
Then perhaps consume some of the great materials on your topic. For those reflecting on racism, HERE are some great materials from the Racial Equity Challenge
PRAYER: Dear God, Help us spend more “sankofa time”. As we look back for wisdom, help us also leap forward using your Spirit to energize Christ-like action. Amen