And that you would be in one body and One Spirit as when you were called in one hope of your calling.
Out in the woods, just beyond that creek over there is a little rustic chapel. Its stones are weathered and worn. It’s been there for ages and feels as if its foundation has taken root into the rich earth on which it sits. The trees have grown around it, arching, cradling the structure, holding it in tender care. Not far from the chapel, in a similarly rustic cabin lives a caretaker, she’s rarely seen. You have to be there at just the right time to meet her. She never turns away a guest and she’s happy as she opens the chapel doors. She turns on the lights, builds a fire in the hearth, lights a few candles, dusts off the chairs. She gently closes the door, knowing the space is prepared for those who need it. And as pilgrims and travelers are able they quietly wander into the sacred silence and rest, the sacred space is there unconditionally and on some days there is one or perhaps just a few but they are strengthened and nourished in their time there. On other days the chapel is filled to bursting and their prayer is deep and the energy rich. But the sacred space is held regardless of who can come and when.
I was ill last week with some virus that has been making the rounds. And this week, is all about trying to catch up before I take off for a week long work trip. And then there’s the regular work to be done as well as our many initiatives that seem to be deepening and becoming even richer through the relationships of those who are coming to the table to not just do the work but to “be” and learn how to be with one another. I’m humbled – humbled to bear witness to the great works unfolding and grateful to be at the table. And then we have 150 guests expected to join us tomorrow as we host Sr. Helen Prejean for coffee and conversation at the Motherhouse.
As we prepare for her visit and those who are anxious to hear her news and good works, I’m very mindful of the kitchen staff who have changed their plans at the last minute to make sure that guests will be cared for in a manner that allows them to attend to what’s being said and not stand in line for a cup of coffee. I’m aware of those who will be standing at the doors greeting, welcoming, helping people find their way in the Motherhouse. While lovely,it can be a little difficult to navigate. I’m mindful of those who arranged the chairs, printed the programs, dusted the halls and will clean up after us. While we listen and our social justice hearts have been fed and opened, renewed to go forth once again into the world, they hold our sacred space. They allow us to enter, rest, and leave renewed. They smile, they minister and they hold us unconditionally. Theirs is no small ministry and again, I am humbled.
As I write, I not only see the gifts of those whose ministries are to create and nurture the actual physical space in which we serve and live. But I find myself wondering who holds the sacred space in the work we do? The spiritual and emotional space? When we meet to work for justice, do we recognize the need to just be together? To ask someone to hold us (in prayer, in the light, send good energy)? Or is that too frivilous for the work at hand? But if you’ve ever experienced it you know, it’s tangible. You can feel it, an anchor to keep the work on task and not out of the ego.
Who are you? Are you the pilgrim? Or the caretaker? Do you flow in and out? Or are you stuck in one role and feel called to live in another? Have you been to that chapel in the woods? Or would you be able to recognize it if you walked nearby? Would you make time to stop in? Perhaps you missed it as you ran to the next crisis? I wonder in our desire to make things better, do we place a hierarchy on justice ministry. You have more legitimacy because you’ve worked at the border, in a war zone, went to prison for civil disobedience? You’re more committed because you know about more than 5 justice issues and have written letters, made calls, attended rallies? Do we see the need for that sacred space to deeply honor one another’s gifts? Or do we replicate diseased power structures by judging, weighing one action against another as better? Or do we recognize we are called in one hope? Do we recognize not just the desire to rest and renew but recognize its necessity and grateful to those whose calling is to invite us into that place?
And that we would be in one body in One Spirit.
On the path,