Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sewing in hope.....
I've been reading through a book entitled "Reconciling All Things," by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice. The book is part of the "Resources for Reconciliantion" series that is being done colloboratively by IVP and the Duke Divinity School's Center for Reconciliation. Communality community member Sarah Brown and our good friend Andrea James recently returned from Duke's Summer Institute which was hosted by the Center and focused on the topic of reconciliation. Sarah and Andrea have shared with us many inspiring and insightful stories from their time at Duke and brought back a number of excellent resources (including this book) that have edified us. This book is really accessible, a pleasant yet profound read that makes a convincing case as to why the idea of reconciliation (writ cosmically large) is at the very heart of the Christian gospel. I think Chapter 4, entitled "The Discipline of Lament," is an absolute must read for anyone involved in Christian work. There are a lot of great passages tucked away in this book, but I wanted to share one in particular today. I share it because it brings to memory so many wonderful friends in divers places who sow seeds of hope, both symbolic and literal, in their sacred quest to find ways to live and die well for the world around them. The picture is from a patch of volunteer cone flowers that we transplanted in the spring to one of the "out of the way" areas of our yard. After looking fairly wilted for a couple of weeks, consistent watering and a little time to root have caused them to explode this summer.
"A friend told us of visiting a very large religious community with a long history of activism and service. For generations St. Benedict's monastery had built hospitals and sent teachers to public schools. In its early history on the American frontier, it had literally saved the lives of weary travelers with its hospitality. Walking with one of the sisters in the community's beautifully cared for cemetery, our friend asked what the elderly sister loved most about the community. 'We do death well,' she said. 'You should see a funeral here. It's really a beautiful culmination of a life lived in worship of God.'
Over time a community like this monastery can transform a place through its service and work, creating space for human life to flourish. But such a community is sustained through small acts of beauty like doing death well. These acts point to a deeper vision that is easily lost in the urgencies of a broken world. They are themselves seeds in this broken world that are just as prophetic as our work for justice and peace.
There is no guarantee that these small seeds will take hold and grow into something beautiful for all the world to see. They could die from lack of water or be choked by weeds. We plant in hope, not certainty. But we plant because we know it is true and right and good. Even as we bend to push the seeds beneath moist soil, we are learning that hope is the patience to work and wait for a future not yet seen (pg.108)."