God Is Drawing Us All to Greater Wholeness

Laura and Steve Brown
Charlottesville, VA
United States

My husband and I are resident volunteers at Casa Alma, an inter-racial, inter-faith Catholic Worker community. We sent the following reflection out to our extended community earlier this week:

Dear Friends of Casa Alma,
We write to share some of our reflections with you, as this election has prompted us to look anew at the state of our country and the state of our own hearts and actions. Despite the suffering we find, we are hopeful because we believe God is drawing us all towards greater wholeness. It is not an easy journey but there is no other one to make. For our part, we are resolved to deepen the scope of our practices of justice and to love more boldly. We invite you to join us.

What will this look like? First, we will increase the time we spend in prayer — receptive, contemplative, unitive prayer. There, in that place within where the most holy meets our humanity, we can rest in our deepest home. There we will find freedom and sustenance and be shaped in humility and courage.

There, the smallest and meanest parts of ourselves will be exposed and transformed. There we can let go of our timidity, our wish to be thought well of, and our inclination toward judgement. We can release our tendency to avoid difficult encounters, reject the ease of turning away from those with whom we do not agree, and resist the urge to be comfortable rather than stretch ourselves outward in deep listening and acts of love.

Emboldened by this contemplative prayer, we will revisit how we spend our time and money, aiming to more fully embrace the radical generosity that inspires us in the lives of saints and other catholic workers. We will focus on cultivating relationships across differences. We will continue to discern how we can be part of local efforts to create racial justice, peace, safe spaces, and dignified lives for those who struggle on the margins. We feel the challenge to respond to everyday bigotry with maturity, humility, and love: https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry

We read the following words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and find encouragement to take the narrow path:

“A big danger for us is the temptation to follow [the leadership of] the people we’re opposing. They call us names so we call them names. Our names may not be ‘redneck’ or ‘cracker’; they may be names that have a sociological or psychological veneer to them, a gloss; but they are names, nonetheless – ‘ignorant,’ or ‘brainwashed,’ or ‘duped,’ or ‘hysterical,’ or ‘poor-white,’ or ‘consumed by hate.’ I know you will all give me plenty of evidence in support of those categories. But I urge you to think of them as that – categories; and I remind you that in many people, in many people called segregationists, there are other things going on in their lives: this person or that person, standing here or there may also be other things – kind to neighbors and family, helpful and good-spirited at work.

“You all know, I think, what I’m trying to say – that we must try not to end up with stereotypes of those we oppose, even as they slip all of us into their stereotypes. And who are we? Let us not do to ourselves as others (as our opponents) do to us: try to put ourselves into one all-inclusive category – the virtuous ones as against the evil ones, or the decent ones as against the malicious, prejudiced ones, or the well-educated as against the ignorant. You can see that I can go on and on – and there is the danger: the ‘us’ or ‘them’ mentality takes hold and we do actually begin to run the risk of joining the ranks with the very people we are opposing. I worry about that a lot these days.” (Dr. King, quoted in The Call of Service by Robert Coles, p.32)

We want to resist the continued divisions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and help to lift up a vision for shared flourishing and well-being. We want also to stand and work alongside those who are vulnerable and threatened, angry and fearful, and do so with wisdom and bold love. Deepening our practice of contemplative prayer will enable us to recognize and take action where it is needed. With these intentions, the words of Richard Rohr animate and encourage us.  With Fr. Rohr, we look toward unity – not from uniformity of belief and action but based in our common humanity — our shared sacredness and love for one another. Join us.

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