Dynamic Change and Growth

Ponderings from Mary Pandiani,
Selah Executive Director

We are not people of fear:
We are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
We are people who protect our neighbors’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
We are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving,
wherever we are, whatever it costs for as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
Barbara Glasson, president of the Methodist Conference, Britain

Reeling from the social unrest and injustice we’re facing right now, my heart cries out in lament to do something so that we no longer have to face another death like George Floyd’s, one more African-American recently killed by a police officer. What can be done? Not only do we find ourselves in a place of concern, anxiety, and fear with the pandemic, now we’re seeing the unraveling of the fabric of our society. What kind of response equals the magnitude of anger, sadness, and grief that the present circumstances evoke?

As a practicing contemplative (meaning that I have intention, but don’t always find myself operating with that posture), I struggle in the tension of pausing and responding. Because I don’t want to react out with a knee-jerk gut-wretching action, I slow myself long enough to ask questions about the circumstances, of myself, and for those directly impacted. But I don’t want my final action to end with the questions, nor do I want to allow a paralysis to take over. As Barbara Glasson above in her prayer reminds me, we are God’s people – we are the ones who are called into courage, protection, generosity, giving and loving – all called to action.

So where am I responding with courage? With protecting another? Entering into generosity with the gift of giving and loving? Asking my daughter and her African-American partner, I hear their words where they both agree that it begins with entering into relationship with another, particularly someone who is different than yourself. It’s too easy to be in relationship with those who think like, act like, grew up like I did. Where and how can I enter into the discomfort of hearing someone else’s story that may not be like mine own, and then advocate for them out of love?

If being a contemplative asks us to posture ourselves in receive the unending love of God, does it not follow that we too offer that same kind of love by pausing, acting, and moving towards another? May it be so, that wherever we are, whatever it costs for as long as it takes wherever you [God] call us, we listen and act to be part of bringing reconciliation and peace to our world.

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