Three years ago 24 March 2016

My sister whose words always move me and many others has shared this today, the third anniversary of the murder of our baby sister Cathy. The pain and the love she shares are palpable and they live together side by side and intertwined in the hearts of the six siblings who remain to mourn.

sally gerard

Cathy is the little girl in the front, right in the middle. Susan is keeping her in check! Cathy is the little girl in the front, right in the middle. Susan is keeping her in check!

Dear Cathy,

Words do not come easily for a letter like this. Would that you were here because if you were, then that would mean that you came back from California. I sit here at the table by the window looking out on the trees struggling because of the drought, and yet like you did so many times, they continue to fight to live and to be all that they were meant to be. Like you, they nurture the many little birds that look for shade in the heat of the day; they grow the fruits and devote so much energy to those tiny bits of what will become food for others. I wish I could call you. Sometimes I still hit call on my cell phone after I bring up your…

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The Beloved Community

Cleaning up some documents on my laptop today I came across this poem I wrote a couple of years ago. I remember writing it after being inspired by writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. He talked about the beloved community. I hope we can reach for that idea in this election season. That is my prayer today.

It comes at the beginning with the ruach of Yahweh.
A life-giving breath that loves from the start.
It’s meant to give life to all of creation.
It keeps all together, we each are a part.

Early on in the story of this time in the light.
Sin enters and alters the beauty created.
Hands made for embracing start grabbing instead.
Community is broken so that greed may be sated.

Yahweh’s love for the world he had breathed into being.
Now came in the form we call incarnational.
His logos, his word, his infinite glory.
Came into our midst, this love so relational!

He showed us by coming alongside us in life.
His mount-given sermon, was offered to all.
Quit worrying! No anger! Share what you have.
Forgiving each other in life sacrificial.

And laying down his life for the sake of this world.
He showed us the way to give to each other.
When we let go what’s inside our tightly clenched fists.
And offer what’s there in love to another.
They’re now in position to receive in return.
A generous measure of love from the father.
Hands again open to embrace, not to grab,
Hands open to sister and open to brother.

Together we’re called to this wonderful life.
Together we’re called to this costly sacrifice.
It’s all that we need, it will surely suffice.
Beloved community, and abundant life.

 

Theology Classmates

My foray into higher education at Creighton University has kept me hopping over the last two months. But I made it through to spring break! No, I am not traveling to Myrtle Beach or South Beach or any other beach with the younger folks in my class. I am taking a few minutes to write something for this blog which has taken a back seat to writing for classes. I have written reflections on assigned movies, a letter about St. Ignatius and the Society of Jesus, mid-term essays, final essays and two research papers. It is hard to adjust my writing style to one that is more academic, but I am giving it my best shot!

THL110 class on final nightOne of my classes ended this past Monday as the seven of us in Theology 110 took our final. This group of new friends were a great reintroduction to university life. For seven Monday nights we met for four hours per class and our wonderful teacher, Mr. Mueting, fed us 2,000 plus years of theology. (That is about 300 years per week but one week we covered 800!) Every week he would bring us snacks to carry us through the dinner hour. Last Monday before we sat down to take our final exam we had a potluck dinner to celebrate. We took our picture to mark the end of this required class for all students at Creighton. There we are, Nancy and I, the two fifty-somethings; Heidi, mother of eight and studying creative writing; Manny who works for a bank and has three children; Kat the social worker who brought her perspective about adolescents searching for their identities; Brisa from Mexico whose bright purple socks made us smile; and Kit, a former EMT from Hawaii who is studying to be a nurse. Life in this class was never dull especially when Mr. Mueting, a dramaturge at heart and a former contestant on Jeopardy, stood at the front and opened the fire hydrant and poured out his extensive knowledge of theology.

It has been a marvelous two months.

Along with this class I have been taking another class in a more traditional format: 30 students (all 20 or 21, except for me!) led by a tenured professor whose doctorate in theology is on full throttle for each Monday and Wednesday class. This class has been such a gift as I have heard affirmation about what it means to love God and love your neighbor and that those two things are in tandem and should not and cannot be separated!

In both of these classes I have had good opportunities to share about the church I have been privileged to stand with in the Middle East and to bring a perspective that others might not be aware of. Even as I have been taught, I have tried to teach.

With all of these good people who share this time in history with me, I have learned about the saints who have handed down this faith to us, and it is these people I am most grateful to. Listen to their voices:

  • Disasters teach us humility. – Anselm of Canterbury
  • Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need. – Thomas Aquinas
  • What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. – Saint Augustine
  • Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. – Saint Augustine
  • Occupy yourself in beholding and bewailing your own imperfections rather than contemplating the imperfections of others. – Saint Ignatius
  • I wish not merely to be called Christian, but also to be Christian. -Saint Ignatius
  • Experience proves that in this life peace and satisfaction are had, not by the listless but by those who are fervent in God’s service. And rightly so. For in their effort to overcome themselves and to rid themselves of self-love, they rid themselves of the roots of all passion and unrest. – Saint Ignatius
  • Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. – St Catherine of Siena
  • You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love. – St Catherine of Siena
  • Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty. – Oscar Romero
  • If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted onto Christ’s life, his cross and resurrection. That is a person’s measure. – Oscar Romero
  • There are not two categories of people. There are not some who were born to have everything and leave others with nothing and a majority that has nothing and can’t enjoy the happiness that God has created for all. God wants a Christian society, one in which we share the good things that God has given for all of us. – Oscar Romero
  • “he Lord God, in this plan, gave us a material world, like this material bread and this material cup which we lift up in offering to Christ the Lord. It is a material world for everyone, without borders. This what Genesis tells us. It is not something I make up. – Rutilio Grande

I think that there is song worth singing in those quotes, and a life worth living. And if we who call upon the name of the Lord could join that choir and craft our lives to the lyrics of that song, like St. Catherine said, we would set the world on fire.

Amen.