Challenges of Change

by | Feb 9, 2024 | Formation, Reflections

Did you notice the graphic with this post? Before reading further I suggest you stop for at least 60 seconds to let it speak to you…

What, if anything did it say to you?

Now, let me back up. Why this graphic? (If you can’t see it scroll to the end of this post.)

Challenges of change

After reflecting on my Mindwalk reflections, I was surprised by the dots that finally connected. Then it dawned on me there was a thread that stitched almost all the posts together. Change! They all focused on something that called for a change.

Well before the time of Christ, Heraclitus said that life is like a river… “you can not bathe in the same river twice.” Another anonymous commentator added… “The peaks and troughs, pits and swirls, are all are part of the ride. Do as Heraclitus would – go with the flow. Enjoy the ride, as wild as it may be.”

As I thought about it realized that there was another sub-theme. Sometimes my thoughts floated along with the current of structural change. Other times I would be swept along with the realization that can be no structural change without a change in my way of thinking (in biblical terms metanoia or repentance.)

Change as a common journey

I suspect I am not alone. Sometimes we try to swim against the current of personal conversion. At other times we are so focused on personal change that we forget the importance of structural changes.

That led me to a hopeful realization about change. We are all on a journey together. And thank God we are! When we are swept mindlessly along one current there are other people calling us to remember that we need the energy of the other current.

The Vincentian “AND”

Years ago, Fr. Tom McKenna remembered something our former Superior General, Fr. Robert Maloney said about St. Vincent de Paul. “Hardly have I ever read somebody who could come down on one side of an issue and then 50 pages later say something the exact opposite.”

And isn’t it true? Vincent counsels to simplicity, and then to shrewdness. His insistence on mortification, and then on self-care. His advice to be gentle, and then his words to St. Louise to put some vinegar into her dealings with others.

Regina Bechtle, SC reminded us

“As Vincent, Louise, Elizabeth, Catherine, Rosalie, and Frederic, listened to the Word of God and pondered God’s ways with humans, something happened, something clicked…. As they faced the tensions and conflicts of their times, as the Spirit opened their eyes wider and wider to see the face of Christ everywhere, they planted themselves firmly in the “AND.” Not with their – heads in the sand, but with their heads and hearts and bodies in the “AND.”

Action AND prayer

Solitude AND community

Head AND heart

Now AND not-yet

Charity AND justice

Service that is material AND spiritual

AND is a key Vincentian word.

Our founders were people who lived at the extremes and chose to hold them together.

Back to the graphic…

I invite you once again to sit with the graphic. Some things to notice…

  • Our Creator calls us to journey together.
  • Each of us brings different insights to our common journey on the road to Emmaus or Damascus.
  • Pope Francis encourages us to link arms in attentive listening to our history and our present.

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk