Found by Joy

Struggle and grace are recursively lived.

Holding on to what I discover and experience—what does that look like in real life, over and over anew?

It means to me that I listen for how God is already working and that I work alongside capable people, wherever I am, to live lives in response to God’s love.

The monks at Gethsemani I observed on my recent retreat there generally don’t make themselves known individually. Collectively they create a place for people like  me to renew and find my life by living their own lives—being true as they see it to the people God made them to be. By caring for each other as a community, they make it possible for each one of them to live out their devotion to God.

In the little I know about Thomas Merton from his work and other’s writing about his life; he couldn’t have, wouldn’t have written what he did without the support or collective presence of Gethsemani.

How does struggle and grace enable me to live outside the lines, or as Father Seamus, housemaster at Gethsemani, explained the contemplative life as countercultural?

Parker Palmer records that Rosa Parks, when asked why she sat on the seat in the front of the bus that ordinary day in Montgomery, Alabama, said that she did it because she was tired.

That seems to me like she had the courage to do what was right for her at that moment that was counter to the cultural norm. Was it that simple or profound?

Palmer says it was more than her body being tired. It was her soul that was tired of playing by the racist rules and denying her selfhood.

One of my challenges as an educator is to find,  as Parker Palmer says, ” a right relationship to institutions with which I have a lifelong lover’s quarrel.” Is an academic presence a way for me to build new relationships that create an ethos of shared lives that dismantles hierarchies? My faith compels me to work alongside other people to create more equitable footings in a spirit of grace and growth.

Every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.

I met someone yesterday that says that place found him. I am on the way there, too.

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