Mary Magdalene and Alleluia

The following is a reflection given by Sister Janet M. Peterworth on April 12, 2020, Easter Sunday Mass via Zoom to Saint William Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.

It wasn’t natural…a woman going out early in the morning without a man while it was dark. It wasn’t natural for a woman to be walking in this darkness in a cemetery toward a tomb. It wasn’t natural to see a large stone that was certainly there before, removed as if by magic or earthquake, from the entrance of that tomb. It wasn’t natural to see an empty slab where a really dead body had been only three days before. It wasn’t natural for someone to leave their tomb so orderly…to take time to roll the head covering neatly and set it aside. It is not natural to speak with two angels sitting there in the tomb. And it isn’t natural for us to be here on this Easter morning looking at each other through tiny rectangles on the Zoom app.

But what is natural? It is natural for a woman who anticipates the dawn to brave the darkness. It is natural for a woman to get direction from others when the way is confusing. It is natural for two-thirds of any group to run away when fear takes over. It is natural for a woman to face fear through her blinding tears when love is involved. It is natural for Jesus to ordain a woman to go tell the others, because women have a way with words—even though their words are often not believed as credible. And it is natural for us to be here celebrating, shouting Alleluia and singing and smiling at one another albeit in little rectangular boxes because we are community.

Though synoptic writers namely, Matthew, Mark and Luke suggest the number of women including Mary of Magdala varied from two to four, it was Mary Magdalene, the woman anticipating the dawn, the woman staying and weeping, the woman sent to tell the brothers that Jesus had gone to his Abba, it was that woman who was constantly mentioned in all four gospels as the first witness of the Resurrection. She was an incredible believer in Jesus and an incredible spokesperson of his resurrection. Jesus had sent her to tell what she saw and heard in their great moment of intimacy together. But it wasn’t long before Mary, that name whispered so softly and sweetly in the garden that morning, became Magdalene “that woman.” 

Little is known of Mary of Magdala after her first-time mission of apostleship. I want to believe she stayed the course. I would like to believe she came away from delivering Jesus’ message to the brothers singing and twirling and jumping and dancing. I like to believe that her first-time mission turned into a lifetime mission of apostleship.

According to Judy Cannato, author of Fields of Compassion, the empowerment to Christ consciousness came through the experience we call resurrection. She says that “while we cannot know exactly what happened at Resurrection, we know that it was more than a resuscitation of a corpse…what we do know is that somehow the risen Christ made himself known to those he had called friends and from this new way of knowing Jesus, this formerly fear-filled band of followers became bold and wise.” And I submit that Mary of Magdala was the first of these followers to experience this. Ms. Cannato goes on to say that Jesus was God enfleshed and now God wanted Jesus’ followers to become God enfleshed. “Resurrection changed their consciousness in every way, and the world has never been the same.”  Thank God, Mary delivered her message whether it was natural for a woman or not.

And what if resurrection would change our consciousness in every way?  And what if we became God enfleshed because of Jesus?  And what if we were offered the possibility of being Christ in the world?  What if we were all invited and empowered to manifest God-consciousness brought about by resurrection?  What if we manifested it in the here and now, just as Jesus did?  Would that be natural?  I think so, because that is what Easter is all about. So, when we get out of our little rectangle boxes, let us deliver Jesus’ message and sing and twirl and jump and dance in solidarity with Mary of Magdala. And shout Alleluia—Whether it seems natural or not.

Anthem

Sister Judy Rice, OSU, submitted these lyrics by Leonard Cohen for reflection:

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

We asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to seeI can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets inYou can add up the parts
You won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
Ring the bells that still can ring (ring the bells that still can ring)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in

Finding Peace in the Middle of a Pandemic

By Ginny Schaeffer, Director of the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality

First it was toilet paper swooped off the shelves by the cart-full. Shortly after that, other food items became hard to find. Despite the assurances of government officials and food supply spokespeople, panic had gripped the hearts and minds of a population preparing for a siege. Anxiety, fear and panic do not let go easily, especially when they are fed daily by images that seemed unimaginable only a few months ago, by the numbers of people infected and the daily death totals that we cannot wrap our minds around.

The vast majority of us are living under a state of emergency declared by governors and mayors. Our lives have been reduced to the bare minimum – home, work and grocery. We are constantly warned to reduce our exposure to others and to stay at least six feet away from those we encounter at work, in the grocery or on our daily walks to guard against a virus that is easily transmittable and threatens everyone, but most especially our older parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone with underlying health issues. To paraphrase a saying, “If you’re not anxious, you’re not paying attention.” At least that’s the conventional wisdom.

This is where we find ourselves as we are about to enter the most sacred days in the Christian calendar. On Holy Thursday we will remember the last supper, the Passover meal Jesus shared with his closest friends. According to St. John’s retelling of this moment, Jesus knew what was about to happen. He saw the storm clouds gathering and he could read the signs of the times.

He had seen men crucified and knew it was a horrendous, torturous death. He knew that this is how the Roman government took care of trouble-makers, criminals and anyone who threatened Pax Romana – the peace Rome imposed through oppression, intimidation and executions.

St. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus did not want to leave those he loved empty-handed or feeling abandoned. He spoke to them of love, joy, peace and unity.

This is what is so astounding, even bordering on the unbelievable. How could anyone who was about to face the horrors Jesus knew was coming his way speak of peace, much less promise it? Yet, that’s what he does:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

                                                –John 14:27

How many of us, in this time of pandemic could use the peace that Jesus offers? How do we avail ourselves to the peace that Jesus offers?

We follow Jesus’ example. After the Passover meal was finished, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, accompanied by three of his closest friends. After instructing them to pray, he goes off to a secluded place and begins to beg God, his Abba, to be spared. Three times he pleads with God for his life. These are not sweet, poetic prayers. They were guttural, primal, filled with fear, dread and anguish. In Luke’s gospel Jesus experiences such agony that “his sweat becomes like drops of blood.”

What happened? God met Jesus in his agony and the struggle within him was quieted, the division in his soul was made whole and he was able, once again, to live from a place of integrity and purpose. Jesus was not delivered from what was about to happen. He was not miraculously whisked away by angels. He was not given super-human powers to overcome the pain and suffering he was about to experience. Instead, Jesus was able to accept Judas’ kiss of betrayal, to denounce the violence of Peter and to heal the high priest’s slave. He asked the temple police who they were looking for and handed himself over to them. This was the grace, the power and strength of what we now know as the “peace of Christ.”

In the next few weeks and months the invitation that is extended to us is to follow the example of Jesus. As we see the infection rates and death totals rise, as we face the possible loss of loved ones, as we struggle to survive financially and have more questions than answers then let us remember how Jesus turned to God. Like Jesus, we must be honest and real with ourselves and God. No more pretending that we have everything under control. No more denying what is happening around us or to us. God desires to be with us in our fears, anxiety and pain not because God is some kind of sadistic peeping-Tom; but because Love seeks to make whole and transform. As we walk through this “valley of the shadow of death” we can trust in God who brings life out of death.

History Will Remember When The World Stopped

By Donna Ashworth

History will remember when the world stopped
And the flights stayed on the ground.
And the cars parked in the street.
And the trains didn’t run.

History will remember when the schools closed
And the children stayed indoors
And the medical staff walked towards the fire
And they didn’t run.

History will remember when the people sang
On their balconies, in isolation
But so very much together
In courage and song.

History will remember when the people fought
For their old and their weak
Protected the vulnerable
By doing nothing at all.

History will remember when the virus left
And the houses opened
And the people came out
And hugged and kissed
And started again

Kinder than before.

Copyright Donna Ashworth ©2020

www.ladiespassiton.com

A Simple Gift

By Sister Mary Lee Hansen, OSU

I am sitting in chapel trying to keep focused on Christ. My thoughts wonder and wander. For some unknown reason I put my hand out in front of me. Stretch one of your hands out in front of you. Turn it upward. Yes, there are probably some crooked fingers and a number of lines of life in the palm no doubt. I ask myself: What has my hand done these days during the confinement of COVID-19? Oh no, not just accomplishments, but what has it done for others besides myself?

God has given me this simple gift. I need not touch my neighbor physically. This hand, through the power of touch, brings healing, love and comfort. How? Has it done so? All Christ asks of me is that I love my neighbor as myself. You probably are saying to yourself, as I am, that we are not to touch anyone during this pandemic. It is too dangerous. So how can I touch another? I ask Christ. Have you noticed the media coverage of helping hands? Volumes of pictures reveal the multitudes of common folk like you and me lending a helping hand, but not touching another person.

I am awed by the ways people have used this simple gift during these traumatic weeks and months. Are you one of those who inspire me to write, call and text or creatively do something for my neighbor? I am sure you are letting God guide you. Mother Teresa told us she was just a pencil in the hand of God. Let us, together, be a bundle of pencils, too, for good. Just ask God to help you. Remember Michelangelo’s ceiling painting of God the Father’s finger stretched out to humankind?  Put your hand out and let God touch yours. Just hope and trust and it will happen, I assure you.

Oh my, it is breakfast time. But before I go, here is my prayer for you today: May your hand perform many deeds of love.

“I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.”

 — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

A God Who Gives Us Hope

By Sister Jean Anne Zappa, OSU

The governor has asked us to light a green light for all the Kentucky citizens who have died from the Coronavirus as a sign of grief for the deceased as well as a sign of hope and compassion. The mystery of grace and our Christian faith enables us to cope with deep feelings of fear, pain and grief. Our faith does not provide a magical formula to eradicate those feelings, but it does sustain us as we try to make sense out of our pain, fear or grief. Our faith offers us a sense of hope and peace in the midst of pain and suffering. Our faith is not a replacement for suffering or grief, but rather mediates the grief to a greater sense of growth and life. Are we able to find courage and hope in this present situation of the coronavirus? 

St. Paul reminds us in Romans 5: 3-5, “We boast of our afflictions. We know that our afflictions make for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope. And hope will not leave us disappointed because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

Our Christian faith does not tell us to embrace suffering or grief or to suppress our feelings or fears. Rather, our faith comforts us in our pain and suffering, knowing that the fidelity of God is with us. The word compassion means to “suffer with.” God is a God of compassion. God walks with us, suffers with us, and shares in our brokenness, vulnerability and powerlessness. 

When we experience the God of compassion in our sorrow and brokenness, our defenses break down and we can allow God to enter into our hearts. Suffering, fear and grief is not about endurance for the sake of our faith; it is about courage in the midst of pain, compassion in the midst of suffering, healing in the midst of brokenness. It is about endurance because we believe in a God of compassion, a God who suffers with us, a God who gives us hope.

What is God Doing?

By Ginny Schaeffer, Director of the Angela Merici Center, a ministry of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville


Look instead for what God can do.
                                             –John 9: 4 (The Message)
Watch what God does, and then you do it…
                                                      -Ephesians 5: 1 (The Message)

Some would say that God is doing nothing but allowing one more plague to run rampant around the globe killing hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions. This is just one more example of God’s callous disregard for the human life God supposedly created. Just add it to the list of all the other times that God has not intervened to stop war, end world hunger, bring poverty to a screeching halt, cure the Black Death, cancer, HIV/Aids, or Covid-19 or put a stop to child abuse and human trafficking.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God is an opportunist and will use anyone and everyone to bring healing to this world. As followers of Christ, we trust that God is incarnational. God acts and moves through what God has created, including us. We believe, hopefully not only with our intellect but also deep within our hearts, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. We trust that Jesus allowed the divinity within him, and that is within us, to be fully manifested through him. Through his life and teachings Jesus showed us that we too are created to allow God’s nature to flow through us and out to others. It doesn’t matter who or what we are—rich, middle-class or poor, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic or atheist, Caucasian, Latino, of African or Asian heritage or native/indigenous peoples, educated or illiterate. Each and every one of us is created to reflect the image of the Creator and to allow the nature of the Creator to be manifested through us.

All we have to do is turn on the news to see this being lived out in real time:

  • Just like the firefighters who raced into the Twin Towers on 9/11, healthcare providers walk into the fire day-after-day to care for people they don’t know.
  • Cafeteria staff at schools and volunteers at senior citizen centers, homeless shelters and community ministries are working tirelessly to ensure that children and other vulnerable members of our society do not go hungry.
  • Scientist around the world are working around the clock to find a vaccine and treatments to save lives.
  • Custodians, house-keepers and janitors are cleaning hospitals, manufacturing plants, offices and other areas so that those with essential jobs are safe to work.

The list could go on and on. All we have to do is open our eyes to see the awesome sacrifices that so many are making for each and every one of us: the long-haul truck drivers, warehouse workers, grocery clerks, garbage collectors and all those who keep our infrastructure working – I told you the list could go on.

Jesus once told his disciples, “Blessed are you who have eyes that see and ears that hear.” If you are wondering where God is in this horrendous, global catastrophe then I implore you to ask God/the Source/the Universe, whatever you call the Divine, for eyes that see and ears that hear. God is all around us and acting for our good.

If you found this helpful and know of others who might benefit from it, please feel free to share it.

That Nothing Be Lost

by Sister Mary Brendan Conlon, OSU

I have always been a saver, not a hoarder, but a saver of things that may be useful to me or someone else in future.

My friends have kidded me that it was because I was a Depression baby. There may be something to that. My mother was frugal and hated waste—”take what you can eat and eat what you take” —and my father was always saving—for a home for us, for a car, for a business to support our family. That might be one reason why I find it is hard to ignore a dropped penny or an errant rubber band or paper clip.

There is something universal about the approval of efforts to recycle and reuse. People smile at retired businesspeople who repair and repaint toys and give them to needy children, as they smiled at the recent story about the man in England who is restoring the red phone booths that once were the signature of downtown London. He’s giving them new lives, repurposed as free exchanging libraries, flower booths, boot shine shops, even small electronic items repair shops.

And many smiled, perhaps through tears, as they read the story of the little boy from England who was shot while vacationing with his parents in Europe and whose parents donated his organs to those who needed them. Later the journals carried a picture of the five or six persons or more who found new life through those parents’ generous gesture.

And that made think me of something. I have read that there are some 150,000 people in this country alone who are waiting for organ transplants. Many are waiting for hearts, kidneys, or lungs, but today there are many other ways that people can be helped through transplants. As I learned more about it, I began to wonder why it is that people who might selflessly endanger their own lives to rescue someone from a burning building or someone threatened by flood waters would send to the grave organs or tissues that might give life or a longer life or a better quality of life to someone else, without any risk or cost for oneself. I am speaking of organ donation after death.

The only answer I could come up with was that they never thought of it—or were deterred by myths or unanswered questions about organ donation. One of the myths is that hospitals can use only young healthy bodies, that there is an age limit for donation. According to  www.organdonor.gov, U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, “People of all ages can be organ donors. . . . Being older doesn’t mean you can’t be a donor. Doctors will decide at the time of your death whether you can donate.” They cite the account of a 92-year-old man whose liver donation saved the life of a 69-year-old woman. “In 2016, 1 out of every 3 people who donated organs was over the age of 50.”

Another myth is that a donor body is accepted only through a hospital, not from a nursing home. According to KODA, the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, when death occurs in a nursing home, the nursing home contacts the coroner, who will contact the organ donation affiliate for that state. Arrangements for donations should be made beforehand wherever possible, by the donor themselves.

Organs that can be donated at time of death are kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, and intestines. In 2014, hands and faces were added to the list. By registering as a cornea donor, a person can also donate his/her corneas, the clear part of the eye over the iris and pupil. Since 1961 more than 1,700, 000 have had sight restored through corneal transplants.

Most of us, when we think of transplants, are thinking of hearts or lungs or some other major organ, but in recent decades there have been many advances in the transplanting and use of tissues. Heart valves, skin, bones, veins, and tendons can play valuable medical roles. Skin, for example, can be used for burn victims to protect wounds for as much as six weeks, to allow patients to grow new skin without the trauma of frequent dressing changes, which carry the danger of losing new skin and introducing infections. Unlike an organ donation, that usually provides only one of a kind of organ to a patient (lungs and kidneys being the exceptions), tissue donations can serve more people. A heart valve donation can serve two people, a vein donation two or three, a skin donation as many as eight, and a single bone donor as many as a hundred people.

Another big difference between organs and tissues is how long they can be kept and be useful—hearts and lungs must be transplanted in about 4 hours, liver and pancreas about 24 hours, and kidney about 72 hours, while many tissues, though removed within 24 hours, can be processed and kept for a longer time.

Some of the things that people who are considering donating wonder about:

What does it cost?  Nothing. All costs associated with donation in all states are paid by approved organ procurement organizations.

Can funeral arrangements be made by families?  Yes. The recovery of organs and tissues doesn’t ordinarily interfere with customary funeral arrangements. In most cases an open casket is possible. When skin is taken, it is superficial, “about the thickness of a Kleenex, leaving an appearance as sunburn when removed.” And skin is taken from non-visible parts of the body, such as the abdomen and the thighs. If cremation has been chosen, that can be done after the valuable organs and tissues have been salvaged. 

When are organs/tissues removed and how is it done?   Donated organs are removed as soon as possible after brain death. Physicians with the transplant team will come to the hospital, “where utmost care and respect will be shown in the recovery of life-giving organs.”

I was especially happy with this last answer. When I was around forty or fifty and just started thinking of donating my body, I was almost deterred by some movie or TV show that had medical students joking about their stiffs. “Not me, body mine, gift of God,” I said. “You have housed my soul, my gift of life, these many years and I will not let it be disrespected by anybody.” Now I’m 90 and that stupidity does not bother me, as long as I know what I am doing and why. But I still like the answer.

Do ethics and religion approve of organ and tissue donation? “Faith leaders around the world support such donations as expression of the highest humanitarian ideals. The gift of an organ or tissue essential to the life of another human being is consistent with the principals (sic) of religious teaching.”

More to the point, does God approve? As I’ve said, I’m 92, and since no opportunity has ever offered me to give my life for another or to God, as in martyrdom (but I might have been too slow or too afraid if it had), surely God will accept my next best thing: the gift of the body that has been my sacred companion for these 90 years—and the gift of life, or longer life, or a better quality of life—for one of His children. And the Jesus who told the disciples after the feeding of the multitude to gather up the fragments “that nothing be lost,” would surely approve.

Choices

The following is a reflection given by Sister Janet M. Peterworth, OSU, at St. William Church in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday, February 16, 2020

Károly Ferenczy: Sermon on the Mountain, Hungarian National Gallery Collection

What are we going to choose? Are we going to choose fire or water? Life or death? Are we going to pretend that we know what God has in store for us or are we going to admit that what lies ahead has never dawned on us? Are we going to be called least in the kingdom of heaven or are we going to be called great? Are we really going to murder a brother or sister or are we just going to kill with our abusive language? Are we going to bring a gift to the altar when we know someone is angry with us or are we going to make up before we bring it? Are we going to take someone to court or are we going to settle before we get to the court room? Are we going to use our bodies for sin, or are we going to restrain ourselves? Are we going to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye? Are we going to say yes, when we mean yes and no when we mean no, or are we going to swear to something we don’t mean at all?

Choices…it’s all about choices. Today’s Gospel helps us to realize that we play a part in all of the choices we make. It is up to us to carefully evaluate what choices help us live in right relationships with one another and with God.

Matthew’s prime concern in this reading, which comes on the heels of the Sermon on the Mount, (and is often called a sermon on the mount itself), was to compare and contrast Jesus’ interpretation of the Torah with that of the scribes…so people could choose. Matthew was talking to early Jewish converts, people who did not want to throw off the Torah so quickly. Maybe Matthew’s people were not so sure where they stood with Jesus’ message. Maybe they were people who were going to make a choice. They were just opening themselves to the Kingdom experience, so Matthew was telling his converts that Jesus was not trying to destroy their law, but to show them ways to go deeper than just the surface of the law.

That is a choice we can make, too. Do we stay on the surface or go deeper? We really write our life stories by the choices we make and every choice we make really makes us. This is difficult. Choices are difficult. Today we call making choices discernment. Someone who is trained in Jesuit spirituality will learn discernment. Discernment is being used today more and more as people make choices. Our parish leadership spent time in prayer and discernment before choices that affected the parish were made. Some of us here are on the verge of making theological choices, community choices, personal choices…hard, serious choices. Couples who present children for Baptism here at St. William are asked why they are choosing to have a child baptized. They have a choice.

Some choices we make are dangerous. Some choose to go to the border to cross into Mexico to assist those being unjustly held at our borders. Some stand on street corners to pray for an end to war or to advocate for refugees. Some choose to go to Nicaragua to support those who live in constant fear. Others offer hospitality to families fleeing from danger and war, while others stand in front of cameras and declare this parish a sanctuary. These are choices…choices that take us to a deeper level. It is more than just surface stuff. It is the deeper level Jesus calls us to.

Now, as you know, our country is already in the mode of making choices. The choices we make, as citizens, in the next few months are among the most serious choices we will ever make as a country. Let’s pray, let’s discern, let’s go to the deeper level in politics as well as in other aspects of our lives. Let’s say “yes” when we mean “yes” and “no” when we mean “no,”  and let’s not say something we don’t mean at all. When we put our mark on that ballot, or pull that lever, let’s be sure we have done it with discernment, so we can be proud of our choice.

In closing, I want to share something I found the other day as I was surfing the internet: “Stop being Democrat or Republican—instead, be honest, have morals, show empathy, value integrity. Be a good human being.” Oh, and make good choices.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with brother
will be liable to judgment.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”


MT 5:17-37 OR 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37

This is no Ordinary Time

By Sister Sue Scharfenberger, OSU

I remember growing up where neighborhoods were places where people knew each other. The older children of the neighborhood watched out for you when you crossed the street. Baseball and sometimes football were played in the back yard with makeshift bases and goals. “Neighbor” had a special ring to it. There was a connection. We took homemade cookies to the new “neighbors who moved in across the street.”

That seemed ordinary. You just did it because you were neighbors.

We knew each other’s names and because Mr. Small was the father of my brother’s best friend, we knew him to be a policeman who walked the streets in someone else’s neighborhood. Police were then people you could look up to, go to for help, feel protected if they were where you were. Police were ordinary people, like your neighbor.

Teachers were “tops.” And if you didn’t feel that way about your math teacher, you for sure didn’t mention it at home.

“Ordinary” named someone like yourself. Easy to be around. Nothing special maybe, and sometimes maybe yes.

It was ordinary to expect that those who had special titles like mayors or governors or congresspersons or, and yes, Presidents, were honest, sincere, someone special, because after all they were elected from the many, right?

It seemed pretty ordinary to have people working together. And even though neighborhoods were separate, we never suspected that some were designated to be poor or of another “color.”

It was pretty ordinary that dads worked to put food on the table and moms, most of them, took care of the children. In any case, no one ever thought of intentionally separating children from their parents.

Guns were used for hunting. Mr. Small used one to protect us. Schools were safe places,  Fun places. Gathering spaces.

But we are not living now in ordinary times. What could be expected or trusted or believed  can no longer be counted. We need to rethink the way we relate to one another, question “democracy,” not as a static given, but as a dynamic process of caring for the least protected among us, giving credibility to “justice for all.” Perhaps we need to put a different face or meaning on what it means to dialogue as a peace-building technique.

Perhaps we need to ignite extraordinary kindness as a model for government, protecting our earth, relating to one another. And certainly we need to ask again the question “who is my neighbor?”  and make the “other” who is different, whose language I do not understand, whose religious beliefs are not mine, and whose style of life or personal preferences are not of my liking, and call them “neighbor.”

We are in a time that calls for extraordinary love, extraordinary hope, and extraordinary peace.

That perhaps will be the only way we can truly care for our earth, care for the generations to come, care for the most vulnerable among us,  care for one another, and care for ourselves.

Let us live in extraordinary times!