One-Liner Wednesday: woman power

The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and responsibilities who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins.

Joan Chittister⁠

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One-Liner Wednesday: troublemaker or truth teller?

No, I’m not a troublemaker but I am a truth teller, and that can get you into a lot of trouble. But people deserve other people’s answers, other points of view, so they can assemble their own.

Joan Chittister, OSB

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One-Liner Wednesday: rules and principles

“Rules are not necessarily sacred,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “principles are.”

This quote begins Sister Joan Chittister’s column this week about applying the wisdom of centuries to the present day. I highly recommend reading it:
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“The Time Is Now”

Shortly before the spirituality class that I facilitate went on indefinite hiatus due to the pandemic, we finished our study of The Time Is Now:  A Call to Uncommon Courage by Joan Chittister, OSB. It was published in March, 2019 in response to the signs of the times.

The book deals with the characteristics of prophets, using examples from biblical times up through the present. While some think of prophets as people who tell us our future, prophets are not fortune-tellers. They are more often those who speak hard truths to draw the community back to its original ideals when it has strayed or who call for growth and positive change in times of selfishness or apathy.

As we studied the book week after week, we often drew parallels between the text and things we were experiencing in the present. These parallels have become even more evident now that the world is dealing with the pandemic.

We see examples of prophetic voice and action, such as Doctor Li Wenliang of China, who in early December alerted colleagues to cases of what appeared to be a new virus, only to be detained by police for several days for “spreading false rumors.” After his release, he went back to work at the hospital. He contracted COVID-19, sent out another medical alert online, and died from his illness in early February. He acted as a prophet in giving warning of danger and was maligned by authorities and ignored, as often happens with prophets. As sometimes happens, he also became a martyr, with his death serving as stark testament to the truth of his message.

Sister Joan calls us to look at what is happening around us and to stand up for truth, whether that means being a prophetic voice ourselves or standing in solidarity with those who are prophets, speaking truths that are considered threatening by the powers that be. We have seen this recently in the United States where some of the governors have been belittled by the president for their science-based and prophetic public statements about the present and likely future effects of COVID-19 in their states. New York State, where I live, is the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States and our governor, Andrew Cuomo, gives daily public briefings. He is very straightforward and makes it clear what is evidence-based and what is his opinion. It is very upsetting to have the president disparage him – and even more upsetting that the president contradicts the science and facts because he thinks it makes him look weak or bad personally.

It is time for all of us to have the courage to follow the prophetic voices or, if so called, to be a prophetic voice ourselves.


One-Liner Wednesday: silence

“In silence, we come to know ourselves.”
~ ~ ~ Sister Joan Chittister from this excellent NCR column
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One-Liner Wednesday: identity

“Exactly what it is that makes us all the same and yet all different both drives us and escapes us at the same time.”
— Joan Chittister, “The Need for the Feminine in Masculinity”chapter in Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (p. 99)

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SoCS: “Between the Dark and the Daylight”

One of my volunteer gigs is facilitating for a spirituality study group at my church. We meet on Wednesday mornings to read and discuss a book on a spiritual topic. After a summer break, we met for the first time this part week to begin reading Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister.

The subtitle of the the book is Embracing the Contradictions of Life.  We all feel that we need help with this!

Sister Joan begins by explaining that life is full of paradoxes and then illustrates the point through a series of relatively short chapters, with titles like “The Poverty of Plenty” and “The Sanity of Irrationality” and “The Certitude of Doubt”. Not that I have read the whole book yet. I like to keep a bit ahead of the group so that I am prepared to lead discussion, but I don’t like to be so far ahead that I am throwing in concepts from later chapters before we get to them.

It is a bit odd that I am facilitating the group because I am its junior member. OK – in most contexts I am not considered a “junior” but, at 54, I am the youngest. Many of the women – and we are all women, even though, theoretically, a man could choose to attend – have children in my age cohort.

I wound up doing it because the IHM sister who began the group decades ago needed to move on to some other duties and asked me to take it on. Do you know how difficult it is to say no to a sister when she asks you to do something for the parish? So I said yes, even though I didn’t feel qualified. Part of what makes it work is that I facilitate discussion rather than try to teach. The wisdom of the authors of the books we read plus the wisdom of the group carries us through.

It’s enlightening.
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One-Liner Wednesday: Chittister quote

“To live is to be slowly born.”
– Sister Joan Chittister

Update:  I found out later that this quote originated with Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The interview that I saw with the graphic of the quote didn’t give the attribution so I didn’t realize that Sister Joan was quoting.

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