“The beautiful darkness hands you over to the light.” Macrina Wiederkehr
Our friend Manuel, who barely lived month to month on SSI benefits, regularly called us in the evening from the laundry room of his apartment in Pueblo, CO. “It’s YOUR turn to talk to him,” I would sometimes say to my husband Bill. Manuel repeatedly shared the same information week after week, and often talked at us rather than with us. I would try to show my interest by asking questions, but often, I found that I asked the wrong question. Manuel simply wanted someone to hear him, to notice him, to recognize his presence.
Today we face a world of division, of racial injustice, of environmental catastrophes, of religious bias, of homelessness, of extremism, not to mention COVID. When we discuss these issues on our North American Social Justice committee, I often think, “What would Vincent or Louise say to us today? How would they respond to the world crises that plague us?” I’ve come to just a few initial thoughts and would welcome yours.
- Enter into mutual relationship with those in need – in need of being seen, in need of resources, in need of connection.
- Use Vincent’s repetition of prayer by being open to share insights gained in prayer while also listening to the prayerful insight of others.
- Speak the truth. Sometimes this is speaking truth to power. Other times it is speaking to a brother-in-law whose views differ from mine.
- Never abandon those living in poverty, even while trying to empower them to be their own advocates.
- Pay attention to the signs of the times and bridge the gap between rich and poor.
- Each person we encounter has something to offer us, be it Manuel showing our need for connection or mentors guiding us with wisdom. Pay attention.
- Be ready to “go” on mission where that will lead us, be it a different geographic place or in response to something that urges our souls at home.
- Open myself to constant conversion. Transformative experiences are always available, especially in the midst of chaos such as we experience today.
As we enter into Advent, let the darkness teach us. Let it allow us time to reflect. Let it paradoxically be a light in these divisive times. And may the ageless wisdom offered from our founders give us insight for moving forward, as they companion our work for justice.
Mary Frances and her husband Bill co-directed the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers for 27 years and she is also a part of the Colorado Vincentian Family collaborative.