In this post, I thought I’d share a re-printed blog/meditation (with permission of course) by one of my favorite authors. These words had a profound impact on me two years ago, shortly before I retired after 17 years service as Director of St. John’s Camp and left my job of 14 years at IU. That was one of the best Summers of my life, which is good, as it preceded two of the more challenging years of my life, including present day. The words below are ones that I have come back to over and over, to be reminded of who I am and whose I want to be and how I wish to live. I hope you find it as inspiring, life-giving, and challenging as I did. Thank you to Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation for the permission to reprint!
Necessary Falling Apart by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Most religion is highly “legitimating religion.” It is used for social control and public order both by the powers that be and by people who want to be in control. This limited use of religion has allowed much of Christian history to participate in a toxic and unjust environment—just as long as we have “a personal relationship with Jesus.” This will not work anymore; in fact, it never did.
The time has come to be forthright with all of you, dear readers, and to advocate for something that is close to my heart. To my shame, I have spent too many years living in fear of being honest and speaking up about my beliefs on same-sex relationships, marriage, and furthermore unequivocally stating that I am an ally of the LGBTQ community.
I know some will ask how I arrived at this place, and to that, my only response is the poem from Rumi above. I found myself caught by the Divine Lover in a moment of being woken up.
I moved to Indianapolis in 1996 – a very naïve and innocent young man from a small WASPy rural town in East Central Illinois. My first awakening came from working with a man named Jason, who was flamboyantly and proudly gay. Being a good evangelical “Christian” boy, I was initially put off by him and was unsure how to talk to him about his “lifestyle” and try to “convert” him. However, over time, as I got to know him…as a person…and heard his story and became friends with him, my heart started to change. Jason was not an object to be converted; he was a human being with a story and a family and desirous of communion and friendship…just like me. That was the beginning of my heart changing, and the start of a shift in my attitude and understanding that would ultimately lead me to believe that, like the woman at the well, the Divine is truly everywhere present and filling all things…even those I had been raised to believe were wrong.
(Today’s post comes from our dear friend and fellow writer Fr. Joel Weir, from his excellent blog “Saved Together”.A big thank you to Fr. Joel for his permission to reprint it here. Go check out his other posts! Read…reflect…respond…resurrect. – LB)
It was still dark the morning that ICE agents knocked on Erika Fierro’s door. Her two young children were still asleep. Her husband, Jesus, had already left for work at his construction job. Jesus was not coming back today. This was the first information the shadowy figures at the door gave to a groggy mother of young children. They mentioned they had detained him and needed her to step outside before they revealed who they were.
No charges. No rights.
Erika said they tricked her to come outside, saying they had her husband and his truck, which had the expensive tools owned by the company he worked for inside. If she came out she could have them.
When she stepped outside, they laughed.
We got another one!
Who are you?
We’re ICE, we detained your husband and were taking you.
Where is your warrant?
We don’t need a warrant. We’re ICE.
This is my property, my children are inside. I have lived in Indianapolis for thirty years.
You were not born here. You are not from here. You need to get back to your country, so take your kids back and go.
They also threatened Erika with the cruelest threat to a mother.
We can do this the easy way or the hard way. The hard way is we follow you inside and do this in front of your kids. Then we call CPS and you won’t be able to get your kids back.
Christmas. That sacred holiday, where, if but for a moment, time seems to stop and the world has a moment of peace, quiet, and joy. The time of year when many people celebrate, give gifts to one another, and in general seem happier and more filled with gratitude and generosity. For much of the country, Nature has begun her long Winter’s nap, and even the city seems quiet at times, especially when the snow falls and covers over the blemishes of this urban inner-city environment. This is the season of light and a time to revel in family, friends, and the simplicity of things. This, I know, is the experience of many. It was once mine as well. Then life happened…
As I’ve said here before, life has a way of teaching you hard lessons you never wanted to learn. It does not allow you to deal with things as you wish them to be, but rather, as they are and in the moment that they happen. Growing up, the holidays (as Thanksgiving and Christmas are often referred to here) were joyous occasions, where I would look forward to seeing friends and family and, naturally, the joy of opening gifts that had been picked, purchased, and wrapped just for me. I grew up in a “normal”, small town, white Christian home and family, with parents who were still married and loved each other and my brother and I, and enough food, faith, friends and family to go around. While we certainly were never wealthy, and even at times very poor, we never wanted for anything. Food was always on the table, gifts were always under the tree, and all was magic and joy at Christmas. I grew up, got married, and began my own family, with dreams and expectations galore, and with my wife’s upbringing being somewhat similar to mine, we made our plans. Even as a newly married adult, I struggled to understand those who did not feel this way about Christmas, and was absolutely prejudiced against those who didn’t seem to “get it” and grasp what this great Feast was all about, my own friends included. Then life happened…