How Everything Matters

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This is what I want to try to say:

How everything, everything matters
How each choice of each moment
Supports or suppresses the creation
Of the kin-dom of God

How the spiritual life is about
A heart in tune with the
Constant dynamic reality
Of the presence of the Holy
In all things
At all times

How the vision is always larger
Than the task and the “how” of the task
Helps or hinders the vision
Accomplishment redefined
In the moment-to-moment making
(And receiving)
Of the kin-dom we seek

How the future we strain to see exists right now
In these concrete details, realities, bodies before us
How the future is not manufactured but discovered
In the places we are in and
In the people we choose to love in these places

How a heart fully awake is a heart at prayer
How love, no matter how foolish, is the best strategy
How the inefficient way is sometimes most efficient
When the aim is alignment
With the “slow work”* of God

How everything, everything matters

*Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

WORDS THAT UNSETTLE

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: Allow God’s Living Word to speak through you as you raise your voice for justice and peace. Find the courage to speak out against an injustice that weighs on your heart.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“LIVING WORD, LIVE THROUGH ME.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Politeness can be as much of an injustice perpetuator as anything else. There is so much we don’t say that is flaming hot in our hearts. What if these words are searing in their release? I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, even if we are complacent while oppression abounds around us, within us, because of us.

The prophets didn’t care. Their words promised searing. Their words provoked disruption of the status quo and had the power to make you shift uneasy in your seat. The prophet Isaiah is unrelenting about a God who desires justice and sees instead the greed and power-lust that are driving the oppressive, complicit, half-hearted actions of the people. I wonder if he had many friends.

“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!” (Isaiah 57:13) Wow. Do I really want to be honest about my own collection of idols? It pulls in me as sacred tension. What am I clinging to as a hollow substitute for the real thing?

Sometimes words are holy that we do not want to hear. Sometimes what we do not want to hear is what we most need to hear. It’s hard to imagine at times that this is actually about the world as it could be… that this is actually good for us… like medicine bitter as it first touches the tongue to then work healing deep within.

I surprise myself with the burning yearning for words that are sharp and actions to match. There are times for sifting through complexities and then there are times for stating simply- ENOUGH. There are moments when the Spirit swells as clarity on the side of the oppressed no longer allowing us to hide behind ambiguity.

It is time to say we have had enough of
inequality
hunger
prejudice
greed
violence
polarization
endless consumption
destruction of the planet
complacency without thought of cost
politeness in place of faithfulness

I tremble at the thought of saying more. What will you think of me? I don’t want to sear you with my words… or myself. What do I do with this fire within? How do I balance the pastoral with the prophetic in a world that is aching for transformation?

Maybe I need to spend 40 days in a desert letting the red hot stone and sand and sun burn away at the fear in me, untangling my attachments to false idols, practicing saying “no” for a while to the things that seem like good options only at first.

Maybe then I will have gathered just enough courage to speak truth in love to what I see within myself, within the world… for the healing of myself, the healing of the world.

Do I even want to pray this prayer? Holy Confronter- Burn away what is false in me. Awaken me to injustice that I knowingly and unknowingly contribute to. Shake me out of my complacency. Unsettle me that I may be liberated from everything that is not your vision of shalom. Amen.

Not Passivity

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice deep breathing throughout your day. Whenever an emotion is triggered that would cause you to be anxious, stressed, or angry, take as many deep breaths as needed to rest in God’s presence. Allow your responses to flow from this presence.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I dwell in you as the source of all life.

“Contemplation is a very dangerous activity. It not only brings us face to face with God. It brings us, as well, face to face with the world, face to face with the self. And then, of course, something must be done.” –Joan Chittister

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This isn’t about passivity
The spiritual life is
Not a practice in being
Overly nice while
Injustice persists surrounding

It isn’t about fleeing
To a warm, safe space
Secluded from the
Wild dangers
Of the real world

That seems important to say
At the beginning

It is about living from
That space deeper

It is about making
Whatever adjustments are required
In each moment
A response is provoked
That would honor the
God-life in the
Center of our beings
Yearning to come to expression
For the sake of shalom made real

If you would but dare
To suspend your own preferences
And opinions
And enter the deepest inward space
Where the God of wisdom
And justice resides
You will discover
The same source of
Courage
Vision
Compassion
As Isaiah
Hosea
Micah

If you will live
From this space
As the source of all action
It will lead you
Right into the real
This beautiful, wild world
That you are called to love
And transform
In holy ways