How and what do we “see” through the lens of Charity as we listen to the cries of the Earth and her peoples this Advent Season, a time of waiting, of joyful anticipation, of knowing that we, the people who walk in darkness, have seen a great light. I invite us this Advent to reflect on how the charism of Charity nourishes and inspires conversations and prayer that welcome and include our Common Home and our brothers and sisters in need, human and nonhuman. Our Vincentian tradition and history bear witness that we share and carry the light and love of Charity, that it shines most brightly when we walk with and accompany those who most vulnerable, excluded and at risk. As we sing the Advent hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, how are we mindful of this?
As we journey together, I invite us to “see,” seek, and sink our Charity roots this Advent into a deeper appreciation and celebration of:
- Comprehensive Compassion. Brian Swimme speaks of comprehensive compassion as the energy of love unfolding since the Universe began. Love (Charity) is deepening and expanding as we grow in individual and group consciousness of our oneness with all Creation.
- Collaborative Challenges. Collaborating, networking, building coalitions and movements are part of our everyday efforts. Skills are needed in communication, reaching consensus, and listening. Many of us try to engage in contemplative conversation and dialogue.
- Curiosity and Creativity. I believe that these two important aspects of our Charity charism are often overlooked as we organize, plan, and implement.
If helpful, reflect on ways you / we live the above “Charity roots.” I use this phrase intentionally because of the knowledge and image Peter Wohlleben offered me in his book, The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature. Wohlleben invites us to “see” the tree upside down for roots are really the “head” of the tree, the place where the “mind” of the tree is. Roots of trees do the thinking and knowing out of which action comes. This learning made me ask, “How do our Vincentian roots help us think and act?” After reading this, I realized that I have barely touched into the meaning of our charism, especially as it calls me to interdependence, interconnectedness, and relationality. As the roots of trees, unseen beneath the soil, are wrapped around by mycelium that form a “mycorrhizal network” connecting individual plants together to transfer water, nitrogen, carbon and other minerals, so our “Charity roots” of comprehensive compassion, collaboration, curiosity and creativity, wrapped in the growing personal and collective consciousness of Vincentian Family, connect us and give life to all of us.
This Advent as I plan, participate, and prepare with groups such as the Vincentian Family Social Justice Advocates, Charity Earth Network, other Sisters of Charity Federation groups, ROAR (Religious Organizations Along the River), Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement and other groups, I celebrate “Charity” alive in me, in us. I wait in joyful anticipation, in the NOW and NOT YET, the coming of Emmanuel, God-With-Us.