We are faith leaders representing many different traditions and congregations who seek to promote understanding, dialogue, and common purpose in our community. This space offers members of our association an opportunity to share reflections with the broader community. The writings represent our individual views, not the positions of the Association or of our respective congregations. We aim to model dialogue that welcomes a diversity of ideas and perspectives grounded in friendship and respect.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Search This Blog
My Spiritual GPS
In conversation with friends the topic of favorite spiritual writers came up. New books, recent articles, favorite quotes from various sources were shared. And then someone offered the following question: Who is your spiritual GPS? A few moments of silence and then a lively discussion ensued! I was at first intrigued by the question and then there he was with his various publications lining my book shelves! Henri Nouwen! He was a Dutch priest, professor, spiritual writer, and theologian. He based his thesis for an advanced degree on the work of Anton Boisen, an American minister who founded Clinical Pastoral Education, the training and education undertaken by every board-certified hospital and hospice chaplain. I did not know this about Henri Nouwen until much later in my spiritual journey with him. As a board-certified chaplain I appreciated him and his work even more. Fr. Nouwen focused on psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice, and community. In his writings and lectures he used psychology as a means of exploring the human side of faith. He realized the importance of integrating spiritual ministry with modern psychology. In the United States Fr. Nouwen taught at the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School, and Harvard Divinity School. In the 1970's some of the Sisters in my congregation heard him speak at Yale Divinity School and remarked on his thoughtful presence and firm belief in hope as a guiding force for good. Later in his life Fr. Nouwen worked with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at L'Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Fr. Nouwen unfortunately died at 64 in 1996. His work and his life continue to touch so many people. On my prayer table I have a copy of his reflection on optimism and hope. I find myself returning to this reflection during these dark days of unrest and disillusionment. I share his reflection with you: "Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things - the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on - will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands. All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let's live with hope."
--- Sr. Edith Menegus, OSU
The day after the midterm elections ... This blog post
will be appearing on the day after the midterm elections.As I write a few hours before results are in,
we are still reeling from the recent violence caused by racial and religious
hatred and, in the case of the pipe-bombs, by an apparent inability to deal
with anger stemming from intolerance. More hatred, clothed slightly
differently. But by the time
this is posted, we will have had an election, one that may make a huge change
in how our country is to manage its affairs or may further empower those who
have been in charge for the last two years. I will not hide that my hope has
been for the change. However, whatever
the outcome in the control of various seats of power, I will continue to hold
out another hope, one that is longer in scope than a single election and
broader than any single electoral victory or defeat. It is that we – all of us
– will commit to teach, learn, and continue to build the practices we need that
At last night's community forum, Belief and Truth from a Multifaith Perspective: Finding Unity in Diversity, many expressed a desire to continue these kinds of conversations and to take action together for building bridges in our community. These are some of the ideas that were shared for next steps:
Find something concrete that we can work on together in our communityCome out with a statement to the community about this gatheringHave clergy visit other houses of worship for teaching and conversation Invite people of other faiths or no faith traditions into our houses of worshipBring younger people into our interfaith programsAsk elected officials to talk about this kind of workIdentify root causes of hatred and address themEncourage media coverage of our programs
What other ideas do you have for next steps? Please share them in the comments.