Wow! Amazing how God works to deepen the meaning of ideas and concepts I find myself praying about…keep reading…I’ll explain…
My intent was to share with you how this concept of “embracing the neighborhood of the universe” played out for me during that July event and during my bicycle and train adventures in the weeks that followed. So I’ll do that, and then share with you how God brought me to more insights about this today.
First, I should tell you that the concept of serving “the dear Neighbor” is central to the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and that we are called to keep expanding our understanding of who the dear Neighbor is.
When reflecting on this idea during the days of the Event, it occurred to me that whenever I travel somewhere, whether for work or play, I like to explore the destinations on my own, using a bicycle or public transportation to get around. There’s something about rubbing shoulders with the inhabitants of the cities to which I travel that helps to have a sense of place, of groundedness, wherever I go. That seems to be important to me.
On the bicycle trip, my concept of neighbor was expanded to include not just people, but the wildlife, trees, rivers, etc. For about a three day-stretch, there were two does that seemed to be traveling with me parallel to the trail. Now I don’t know if it was always the same two does, but it comforted me to think that they were. I thought of them as my guardian angels, and even named them Clarice and Clarissa.
On the train adventure, I stayed with people most days, most of whom I didn’t know very well, some I had only met through e-mail. And there were several destinations where I decided to stay in hostels because I didn’t know anyone in those cities. Believe me, sharing a room with 3-7 strangers was an experience! All the while, I was aware that all these folks were my neighbors, and I enjoyed my encounters along the way.
Fast forward to today…had another Gesu moment today at church. It seems to me that the feast of the Epiphany is about God embracing the universe, that Jesus came not just for a select group of people, but for all. Not a new concept for me, but it touched my heart today in the session our Anti-Racism Team held after Mass. Our parish is going to participate with two suburban parishes in a film and discussion series over the next several weeks, and today was an introductory meeting for those of us from Gesu. I went because someone on the team personally invited me to come, having no intention of trucking out to Auburn Hills for the next three Tuesday nights. After all, I’m teaching 3 new classes starting tomorrow…no way I can put anything else on my plate.
Well, someone on the team clarified for me why all the sessions were in the suburbs, and it made sense. Still, I found myself a little peeved. I realized that I do make unfair assumptions and judgments about people who live out in wealthier suburbs. So what became clear to me is that I need to not only continue my own recovery from racism, but also pray for the healing of my attitude towards those who have wealth and privilege. And perhaps the best way to do that in the here and now is to participate in the sessions, listening deeply to the experience of others, and really learning to embrace the totality of “the Neighborhood of the Universe.”